Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My experience at the National Hospital

At the time of my accident I was in an ordinary ward starting with the overcrowded, accident wards, however this time round as I could chose the date I was admitted the Doctor gave a note for me to be admitted to a Class I paying ward.

Once the admission formalities were completed on Monday, July 25th I was admitted after 1pm, and was told due to the preparation times etc, that I would not get any food till after 1pm the next day. It is part of the bureaucracy on their part!

The room in on the 5th floor of the Bandaranayake building, and overlooks the new Central Hospital and various Colombo landmarks. There is a very wide balcony, the widest I have seen anywhere in Sri Lanka, wide enough to put a bed lengthwise. The attached bathroom is also very big, clean and basic, but fully tiled.

The room has the high hospital bed with two pillows, but the head or foot cannot be independently raised as some of the beds of the regular wards are. A desk and chair, and two more chairs along with a clothes cupboard, a dressing table,a bed side table and a clothes horse. There is plenty of fluorescent lighting and the two plug points hold square plugs. There is a speed controlled fan that gives enough power. Due to the elevation, there are no mosquitoes, and it is very breezy as the sea breeze comes all the way here, and I sleep with all the windows and doors open.

The regular service schedule is as follows. A nurse usually comes at 4.30 am to check the temperature. They are just impeccably turned out in their kits, with not a hair out of place throughout their shift. The morning coffee is brought at 5 am and at 6 am morning breakfast is served along with tea, in a large tray, (wooden) and a plastic cover to prevent flies. This morning there was green gram for breakfast.

At 7 am someone comes offering hot water either for the flask or for washing one's face, then at 8 a person comes to sweep the room and on alternate days to also mop the room. The bath room is cleaned daily by another person at around 9am. The nurses come around 8 about 5 of them to discuss each patient's particular treatment and drug schedules. The doctors assigned to the patients come later with a nurse who takes down any instructions. Then the instructions like cleaning my wound is done very professionally by two nurses with disposable face masks and gloves just for that activity.

Another team of two come every other day to change all the sheets and pillow cases! even I do not change them this frequently. There are male hospital orderlies whose task is to take patients to x ray surgery or similar function, clean them up if necessary and prepare them for surgery, like in my case the whole area where the operation was performed had to be shaved and cleaned with antiseptics.

At around 10, coffee is served and then a tray of lunch is at noon. We have already had a few days of yellow rice, and fish or chicken curry along with other vegetables, and dessert is either a yoghurt, or fruit salad or a slice of papaya. Then afternoon tea is served around 3pm, with either biscuits, or a cheese and crackers and today it was a savory sandwich.

Dinner is served around 6pm, and it was a soup, followed by boiled vegetables of cabbage, beans, carrots and potato with a piece of chicken in a gravy, along with two thick slices of white bread. the cold jelly comes about an hour later so one can eat it as is then!

The nurses come during the day with the various medicines relevant to each patient, and after dinner a final review of last medicines to sleep and after meals, and in my case the antibiotics, and pain killers to take before bed time. There is no TV and I go to sleep around 8.30pm.

The general visiting hours are 6am to 7, noon to 1pm and 5 to 6. Surprise surprise I have no visitors during visiting hours and they all seem to come at the other times!!

I have a 24 hour attendant who is a retired hospital employee who is in the room all the time except when he goes to get his food, and I have the luxury of sending him at 6 am to get me all the newspapers to read for the day! If one does not have a family member with the patient, then one is recommended.

The attendant is paid Rs1,200 for the day and room charges including food is Rs1,750. The strong Augmentin 1.2m injections at operation and thereafter we have to buy, and the follow up Augmentin 625g antibiotic course is also bought by us, but all other medications including the Walteren for the swelling and pain is supplied.

The surgery and related doctors' visits and x rays as well as the daily physiotherapy is NO CHARGE

When a visitor told me about appalling service at a 5 star hotel, where the servers were quite clueless in how to serve, I told them, that in comparison, I received 7 star service in the largest State Hospital complex in the world!

Please note that the non paying wards usually offer three rice and curry meals a day with red rice, whilst we are offered one white rice lunch as well as the less healthy white bread in the morning and evenings.

I read somewhere that the Colombo Hospitals are overstaffed, and the rural ones are understaffed with doctors as well as all the ancillary workers. Surprise surprise!


cj said...

So glad to hear that some of the institutions in our country are working. Wishing you a speedy recovery.

Anonymous said...

while staying in hospitals can be stressing, a professional and friendly attendant staff makes a huge difference in the post-op recovery process. the food also sounds great.

here's wishing you a speedy recovery.

Jack Point said...

Another interesting post.

I recently visited a non-paying ward and the crowd was terrible. The paying ward sound a very good option for someone who cannot afford a private hospital.

Anonymous said...

This was helpful information. Thank you, and hope you've recovered fully.

Angel said...

I love the breeze from the Class I balcony... as students, we used to take advantage of the wide space and play a sort of mock-cricket.

Glad you found your stay pleasant!

Jack Point said...

I was narrating your experience at the Merchant ward to a friend and mentioned that might be a good option at a reasonable price rather than paying for a private hospital.

He told me that it is virtually impossible to get into the Merchant ward because it is always occupied by politicians. We have hundreds of them and they all use the Merchant ward so its impossible for ordinary people to access, unless one is very lucky.