Leaving a Legacy

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In a time when disappointment, frustration and fear has taken over everyone’s lives, Jayam Wijayaratnam’s legacy of a 100-bed cancer hospital being gifted to the people of Sri Lanka is a welcome ray of sunshine.

Located just a ways off from the Colombo North Teaching Hospital at Ragama, is a beautiful building with open, spacious areas, plenty of colour and a centre yard with ample greenery. This is of course the newly-erected Jayam Wijayaratnam Centre, which hopes to be a home for those who are undergoing cancer treatment to rest and hopefully recover.

Leaving a legacy

A project by the Jayam Wijayaratnam Fund, the newly established cancer hospital is a project completed in the memory of the late Jayam Wijayaratnam, one of the most notable citizens in Negombo, a former deputy mayor and a third generation businessman of the coastal metropolis.

Much was spoken about the late Wijayaratnam during the opening ceremony, including his love for business and the people of Negombo, also his influential role as a businessman in the coconut industry. It was also shared that, pained by seeing his fellow citizens of Negombo having to travel all the way to Maharagama to receive proper care for cancer treatment, establishing a more accessible cancer hospital had always been an ambition of the Wijayaratnam.

Although he was not able to make his dream come true during his lifetime, with the leadership of his wife, Yogeswari Wijayaratnam and her fellow trustees of the Jayam Wijayaratnam Fund, she was able to make his dream a reality, at the expense of selling a significant portion of their assets and property.

Years later, construction has been completed amidst tremendous obstacles, including the pandemic, and the current crisis in the country as well as many other circumstances, the Jayam Wijayaratnam Centre is finally open for the public’s benefit.

All about space

Ceylon Today had the opportunity to visit the centre during its opening ceremony. Visiting the location, we were impressed by the large centre courtyard, wide open spaces and welcoming colour scheme; a refreshing departure from the somewhat depressing clinical environment you would normally expect from a hospital.

The 100-bed facility in which patients can easily enjoy wide open spaces, and fresh breezes of air throughout the day is the result of painstaking architectural research to best identify ways to create a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere to lift the spirits of resident patients. It is also fully equipped with an auditorium to conduct cancer awareness programmes and lectures, a pharmacy and special ward for terminally ill patients to live the final days of their life peacefully with a loved one, with glimpses of nature all around them.

All about care

After the handing over of the facility to the Ministry of Health, the Jayam Wijayaratnam Cancer Centre will operate as part of the Oncology Department of the Ragama Hospital, with Consultant Oncologist at Colombo North Teaching Hospital, Ragama with Dr. Sujeewa Siyambalapitiya taking charge of the facility.

The Jayam Wijayaratnam Trust and all parties shared their excitement regarding the new cancer hospital, and the opportunity for many in the surrounding to have easier access to much needed care while battling this devastating disease.

“I take this as an opportunity to thank everyone who has helped to make my late husband’s dream a reality,” shared Yogeswari Wijayaratnam while addressing the gathered audience. “I look forward to seeing this hospital working at full capacity and the patients enjoying the benefits of the surroundings. Thank you everyone once again for being part of this humanitarian venture.”

(Pix by Laksiri Rukman)

By Shanuka Kadupitiyage