The Ayurveda Hospital at Rajagiriya


"I always wish to tell people who leave this hospital after treatment for various ailments that instead of gifting cakes and such like to the nursing staff and doctors in a ward, they could express their appreciation better by donating something to the ward itself. I am not asking for this, not at all, but only suggesting that instead of giving personal gifts, a gift to the hospital would be much better."

And there evaporated my intention of giving a cake and chocolates to those serving a private ward in which I had a patient who had been in severe pain after an injury to her back but was now much better. Her pain had been greatly minimized. I was speaking to one of the higher position doctors who had made a promise to give my patient a room and had fulfilled her promise without delay. I was lucky since rooms do not fall vacant easily as patients stay on in the hospital for weeks and sometimes months. As you well know, ayurvedic treatment is slow, but I must add sure. I had gone to the doctor’s room to thank her for keeping her promise of getting me a Class 2 room on the morrow after I had almost cried for help subsequent to daily visits for around a week, begging for a room. The patient was in severe pain and had full faith in pathus and oils and decoctions, not in pain killers and bed rest. I was afraid to switch treatment after consulting an orthopedic surgeon but the patient was adamant on ayurvedic treatment. I am very glad I agreed to her choice of treatment. So here was I seated before this in-charge doctor who asked me not to thank her for getting my patient a room because she was merely doing her duty. That’s when the talk about gifts to the hospital came up. She said that the amount allocated to the ayurvedic hospitals in comparison to those of western medicine or allopathy was very disproportionate, the big hospitals scoring heavily.

Work is being done but …

The hospital at Rajagiriya is being renovated, repaired and added to with Japanese aid, I believe. It deserves much since the doctors seem to be dedicated and also competent, having a basic training in allopathic medicine too. The wards, Class 2 and the nonpaying I saw were clean and well maintained. Class 1 has bigger rooms and I was told high beds, so Class 2 suited my patient fine. One snag which the lady doctor I mentioned pointed out to me was that the attached toilets in the Class 2 rooms had to be climbed into with two steps off the floor. For whatever reason built this stupid way she said, and I echoed her. The toilet cum bathroom could so easily have been flush with the room floor instead of having patients, most arthritic or after fractures, having to climb up to the toilet. Another unforgivable sin of the planners and builders of rooms was that the toilet door could not be closed since the wash basin jutted out and space too narrow.

Payments are very reasonable: Rs 1,000/= per day for Class 1 and Rs 750-/ per for class 2. An attendant, whom most patients require, costs Rs 1,200/= per 24 hours and you have to hire them for day and night service. I was asked the question which called for no answer when I wanted to engage an aide for only the night: "How is she to get home and come back again for duty?" These aides stay on with the patient making the room their temporary residence.

Food was adequate. It’s made to suit the treatment being given with due consideration to diabetics, high blood pressure and asthmatic patients. Congy is de rigueur for breakfast and soup twice a day. A huge piece of papaw is a frequent, almost daily accompaniment.

The staff is good, and not so good. The doctors were very competent and considerate of patients and their visitors too. They were, many of them very kind too. Those who dispensed medicines and did other jobs like admitting patients left much to be desired in their dedication to duty. I heard it said that one dispenser had gone off for tea leaving a long queue growing ever longer. "Eya union manussek, neda?" This rhetorical question was self explanatory of the tardiness of that particular employee. This is a frequent happening in institutions where the higher ups are good and dedicated while the lower-down-the-ladder employees are far from conscientious and don’t seem to care a jot for the patients who come over for outdoor treatment. They know no manners either. The gatekeeper tries to throw his weight around! He had no trouble with us since we didn’t contravene the rule of visiting hours – three hours daily: early morning, at noon and in the evening.

In fact to admit my patient it took all of three hours waiting at the admitting desk. The doctor I spoke of allocated a room to the patient but the nitty gritties had to the sorted out by a male officer. He was busy chatting to some female officers (not doctors) when I wheel-chaired my patient in, it being impossible to get an aide to do this, though later one was recruited for the job. Then when the tete-a-tete was over, the man behind the desk says: "The Secretary has come and I have to go and meet him. Wait a while here. (Dingak inna)". The ‘while’ became all of two hours, with me wanting to take the patient away. Patience and nurturing a thick skin paid dividends since the patient has benefitted from the treatment.

The hospital deserves greater

allocation of funds

Ayurveda treatment is sought by the many, especially the less affluent and older people with arthritis, fractures and osteoporosis. Hence the government should spend more on the hospitals that offer this kind of treatment. I laughed a bitter laugh no sooner I wrote that last sentence. How will the government spend more on this type of hospital when its total health budget is so measly and hospitals have to cut down on their services, even medicines dispensed? I had to take sundry items needed in the medication of my patient, which I did not grudge having to spend on since the room rent was so little.

Any organization that does charity, schools included, could assist this hospital that looks after so very many with shramadana help or more usefully with money or material donations.

Pix by Kamal bogoda

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