The ministering angel of Sri Jayewardanapura Hospital

Sri Jayewardenapura General Hospital (JPH) bobs now and again in the print media. Its emergence, and whenever that happens, mostly is to have a brickbat hurled at. Then follows a quiescent existence, until hauled up again as a target in the shooting gallery of public opinion. But this time the JPH is emerging not for a brickbat — bashing but to receive a bouquet. Why not? Just as much criticism and exposure are a part and parcel that any correcting mechanism ought to accommodate, so should be a deserving praise when such is due. How happy, therefore, ought we be when praises are sung of the ministering angels?

I sought admission to JPH on March 29, 2003 on a complaint of a mild chest pain accompanied by a supporting document, a letter from my family doctor with some test reports. It was around 11.30 in the night when I walked up to the admitting centre, seemingly quite hale and hearty as would appear to anyone, from the fact that I was after a refreshing bath and a good meal I have had just prior to proceeding to the hospital — a fifteen minutes drive from my residence.

In spite of the apparent good health exhibited, after a few preliminary examinations of me carried out at the admission — control office of the hospital, I was swiftly rushed to a ward. From that time up to the moment I was discharged, the entire medical team comprising of doctors, nurses and para-medics gave me — by way of their routine duties the best attention that could be possibly obtained from any institution in Sri Lanka, where the government exerts a controlling hand.

The doctors — all young — were gay (in an archaic sense) and affable. They worked as a team. Their team work — as I saw — applied to all matters that encompassed diagnosing, prescribing of medicine and deciding on what further medical opinion a patient might need when such had to be reached and got from out of their confines. Apically placed was a V.P, who routinely visited the ward twice weekly or so.

As for this structuring, it could be argued that JPH holds nothing unique to warrant mentioning, for it is a copy of what is applied to all government hospitals of the JPH grade, like any base hospital of a district. While I grant it, layouts and constructions are one thing, their actual practice is another, in which the JPH excels.

Once in the ward, I was continuously monitored for the working of the heart. The wiring fixing me to the machine kept me confined to bed. The depressive effect of the restriction had its peak reached in a morning, when I realized that the prospect of having the morning ablution for the day performed in the place most appropriately allocated for it was fast receding.

On the other hand, the Buddhist suthras, nothing but stanzas woven and set in Pali to contain instructions and advice on the conduct of... self for sound living, also incorporates all the advocacy contained in professionalism, and many other an aspect including the dimension that animals too have the same right to live as applicable to humans. Unfortunately, the meaning of the Suthras remains obscure to the broad masses, in spite of their of repetition, for the language reason that the lingua franca of the Sinhala Buddhists is Sinhalese and not Pali. And for the same linguistic consideration the everyday liturgy of Buddhism, also in Pali, have their exhortations missed by the masses. For that matter, a graduate lady teacher wanted to know from where she could buy a copy of the Karaniya Meththa Suthraya in Sinhalese as she could not comprehend the Pali version of it, though she has been reciting it in parrot fashion ever since a child, on her own admission.

Anything repeated over and over in a comprehensible language has the property to take root or in the least a seepage of it getting into the thinking stream of the people. This when projected to cover the Buddhist Suthras and daily prayers, the social impact of such a release would be stupendous. And the social implications? Well, that would be too unbelievable to describe. In leaps and bounds will be the progress made as the social mindset is one of acceptability. And not just One Ministering Angel but in their thousands we shall have!
Shelton A. Wijesinghe