Taking Care of Mommies

By Priyangwada Perera | Published: 2:00 AM Feb 13 2021
Health Taking Care of Mommies

By Priyangwada Perera

As a child of 5, admitted to Ragama Hospital after getting electrocuted, I was waiting to be operated. My anxious mother sat on an uncomfortable chair next to my bed night after night and read me a story book. Even though I healed, the mental picture of my tired mother is etched in mind. This is more or less the usual experience anyone who decides to stay behind with a child admitted to a Government hospital. 

While the common conception being this, a social media post of a project done at Lady Ridgeway Hospital (LRH) where special beds are installed for the person staying behind with the sick child appeared and was shared by many who commended the initiative. 

This wonderful work was done by Dr. Manilka Brahmana. Instead of merely doing her assigned duty as a doctor, Dr. Manilka had her eyes and ears open to sense the discomfort of the mothers, and  instead of complaining that the mothers who are dead tired should pay more attention to their sick child, she went on to see what could be done from her end to make things better.  

Wards cannot accommodate beds for mothers due to space issues. 

This was where creativity stepped in. Instead of conventional beds, they decided on folding beds which can be kept under the child’s bed during day time, and can be taken out and unfolded during the night, hence no space issue. According to 

Dr. Manilka this was first implemented as a pilot project in Ward 3 with 40 beds installed. “We observed the difference in mothers after a few hours of sleep. Mothers could be actively involved in child management. I got many requests from friends who wanted to contribute. That is when I spoke to the Director of LRH Dr. G. Wijesuriya. Dr. Mahinda Wickramarachchi had been thinking of the same but he could not do it on his own. The sponsors paid the company where the beds were made directly," Dr. Manilka emphasised she did not handle money at all. 

To maintain the transparency in financial as well as other aspects she appointed a special committee to oversee the project. Past Visakian Dushyanthi Gunewardena - the wife of former cricketer and umpire Kumar Dharmasena - also donated some beds. Dharmasena was present at the opening ceremony, talking and mingling with the patients and their loved ones. Major General (Retd.) Wasantha Perera, his wife who is also an old Visakian, and family members were present. 

At the point of writing of this article, it sounds like a beautiful dream-come-true where Dr. Manilka walked a smooth path. She did get the support of the people that mattered. Hence, Dr. Manilka said, "It's a blessing to have administrative officers such as Director of LRH 

Dr. Wijesuriya, Deputy Director Dr. Saman Yapa Bandara, and Dr. Wickramarachchi who is in charge of MOIC Quality Control Unit of LRH who appreciate and support us to do new projects that ultimately benefit our patients," said Dr. Manilka.

 Dr. Wickramarachchi explained how each hospital has to look after the quality of the service. With regard to quality improvement, now, there is a separate quality directorate in Castle Street Hospital for Women (CSHW) which is connected to the Ministry of Health. It is situated at the CSHW itself. Under the supervision of this quality directorate various activities are introduced to each hospital to get the feedback of patients. Patient satisfaction surveys and staff satisfaction surveys are done to find out their ideas regarding services. “Similarly, we have introduced an Adverse Event Reporting Form. By using that, we gather data.

 Our Sisters are given the form and they report it. One such event reported was children falling down beds. Then the nail-pick injuries caused when the cannula is inserted to the vein and adverse reactions in blood transfusions are some other examples for these events reported. We also get the dispensary to give us cases such as prescribing wrong drugs or wrong dosage,” Dr. Wickramarachchi said. 

Analysing these, they also found out that compared to international figures their count of children falling down from beds are higher. It is the mothers who look after the children in the night. Even though all facilities are provided for children, the mothers are given a mere plastic chair. At night they sleep in that seated position. If it is a prolonged hospital stay, this continues and mothers become sleepy and fatigued. “We have informed them to discuss these failures and find out solutions in quality improvement. 

This is where Dr. Manilka who was working at Ward 3, saw this problem coming up. Sadly, we do not have money and there is a lot of red tape we have to cross when it comes to making a project like this happen. Having donated things like TVs and other medical equipment through the help of her donor friends at Visakha Vidyalaya, Colombo Dr. Manilka was once again assisted by the Old Girls of her school. Apart from them, there were very generous philanthropic.

"One bed is around 

Rs 20,000 and she has now got around 200 beds. The target is 500 beds,” he said.

  Dr. Manilka also extended her gratitude towards Consultant Paediatrician of Ward 3 Dr. Devan Mendis and Nursing Sister of Ward 3 Shyamani Liyanage for their immense support in planning and implementing the project in Ward 3.

Apart from all this, the most crucial is the possible legal issues. The hospital cannot get the donation directly because she is just one individual. This is where 

Dr. Manilka came to meet 

Dr. Wickramarachchi. With years of experience and diplomacy, Dr. Wickramarachchi formed a committee under the supervision of the Director 

Dr. Wijesooriya and the leadership of the Deputy Director Dr. Bandara. Keeping Dr. Bandara as the leader, 

Dr. Manelka, Dr.Wickramarachchi, and their Chief Nursing Officer Manel Harischandra formed a committee and took over. Jagath Asanka of SAF International Private Ltd. Made all the beds.  

 Yet, smooth journeys and bold initiatives can hardly be associated together. "Love is about going that extra mile even if it hurts," said Jenifer Flackett. These words of courage seem to have been Dr. Manilka's mission statement.   

(If anyone would like to join the Phase 2 of Folding Beds Project, please call 011 26937111 ext. 307)

  (Pix courtesy Dr. Manilka Brahmana)

By Priyangwada Perera | Published: 2:00 AM Feb 13 2021

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