Experiencing a stay in a Sri Lankan hospital cannot be a pleasant experience to any patient, especially if it is in a state hospital. I have been unfortunate to have such bitter experiences in a few state hospitals. I won’t name them here as I don’t want to be at the receiving end if I happened to go to any of those again.
I had to spend a couple of days at the Teaching Hospital – Jaffna early this year and was amazed with the professional and caring way I was treated there. I was directly taken to the Emergency Care Unit (ECU) as soon as I got myself admitted to the hospital and was given the treatment immediately in a comfortable ECU bed. (I have been to some other hospitals before with more serious conditions of the same illness before but I have had to wait for hours even without being looked into let alone being treated!) Once my condition was stabilized, I was transferred to a regular ward.
The hospital staff in this hospital in Jaffna, from the specialist doctors to the minor staff, were very helpful and caring. Language barrier also did not become a big issue even though most of the staff members were Tamil people. There were a few Sinhala and Muslim staff members too, everyone was nice to me, and I saw with my own eyes they were the same towards the other patients too.
Once I was cured, they discharged me and guided me properly to the medical clinics too. I couldn’t get the signature of the chief medical doctor for my insurance documents as he wasn’t available when I left the hospital and the staff gave me a date to come back to get the signature. However, I couldn’t go on the stipulated day due to a personal reason and went to the ward on a later date. As soon as the doctor saw me coming, even without my asking him, he came to me and signed the diagnosis card needed to get my insurance claims.
I wish the staff of the other state hospitals also could do the same. It doesn’t cost money to smile, be humble. Of course, I understand that the state hospitals can be understaffed at times but what I saw at Teaching Hospital in Jaffna was that, more than anything else, it was the positive attitudes of the staff that made my stay there a pleasant one as opposed to arrogance.