Dr. Shirani Malika Jayasuriya, a medical doctor who had no place in Sri Lanka and sought greener pastures in America after qualifying as a doctor has succeeded in upgrading the hospital she worked for in the Central Atlantic to number one in excellence and patient care.
“I took a lot of pain to convince the staff from top to bottom the importance of delivering a high standard healthcare service to the community. I explained to the staff that contentment is intractably connected with productivity. I personally spoke to each and every one of the staff to boost their morale and the productivity of the hospital was surprisingly on the increase under my watch,” she said.
Though Dr. Malika encapsulated her efforts in a few sentences, it took a painfully long time for her to achieve the desired results.
She has uplifted the hospital to one of the prestigious medical care centres among the exclusive five hospitals belonging to the President’s Circle.
“My home town is Bandarawela. I had my primary education at the Visakha Vidyalaya, Bandarawela and moved to Devi Balika Vidyalaya, Colombo for secondary education and graduated as a doctor from the Medical Faculty of the Peradeniya University.
“I completed my internship at the Karapitiya Hospital and worked at the Kandy and the Colombo General Hospitals. During the course of my duty I started my training in psychiatry and left for America for further specialization,” she said.
She moved to America in 1992 and served in several hospitals in that country for 25 years.
“Health South Corporation specializing in physiotherapy rehabilitation has a network of 140 hospitals spread over the fifty states of America. The responsibility of these hospitals is mainly to provide post-recovery treatment. Patients in America after treatments in hospitals are not normally sent home but are rather admitted for physiotherapy and recuperation to this type of hospitals which provide physiotherapy and make the patients return to complete normalcy physically as well as mentally”, she explained.
“In 2013, when I worked at the rehabilitation hospital in Las Vegas, the hospital was in complete disarray. The hospital administration was defunct, patient admissions were poor, patients were leaving it due to poor service which had a demoralizing effect on other hospitals in the neighbourhood,” she related.
“I frequently visited my home country Sri Lanka and engaged in social work and even worked as a volunteer doctor in the army and I was the first doctor to do such service in war-ravaged areas. But it ruffled the feathers of some of my peers. I returned to Sri Lanka in 2014 deciding to settle down here. But after one year I received an invitation from Health South Corporation to take charge of the Rockhill Hospital. It was in a poor state and ranked 139th among 140 hospitals.
“The down side of that has a ripple effect on neighbouring hospitals. Again in America I resumed work as the medical director of the Rockhill Rehabilitation Hospital in Central Atlantic. It was also in a worse state of affairs as the Las Vegas Hospital. If a hospital has a bad reputation, doctors won’t refer their patients to such hospitals. Hospitals with good credentials have high rates of admissions.
The Rockhill Hospital had a bed-strength for 60 patients. When I joined the hospital there were only 29 to 30 indoor patients on average. But they couldn’t be discharged to go home early due to the slow recovery process in the hospital.
“I often listen to Ven. Ajan Brahmawansho’s sermons. According to his preaching, I explain to the staff the importance of doing good to the people around you. I always advise my staff to leave behind all their worries in the hospital when they go home and spend their time with the family happily because they are the ones around you at that moment, in the same way when you are with patients in the hospital,” she said.
“I made the hospital a pleasant place to patients and treated them with a lot of compassion. It resulted in patients recovering soon and in turn it saved state expenditure on patients. I made all in the hospital a happy lot. That was my strategy to raise the bar of the Rockhill Hospital,” she admitted.
She derived great satisfaction seeing the contented staff and patients and the hospital was running at full capacity. The Rockhill Hospital built a unit called Malika Inspiration Room in her name to enhance mental tranquility of both the staff and patients.
“Every year independent audit is conducted by separate entities to assess the standard of hospitals in America which cannot be influenced by anybody. The Rockhill Hospital was selected as the best hospital that maintains the highest standard in healthcare in the Central Atlantic and I was selected as the best medical director. My hospital was awarded one of the five exclusive hospitals selected for the President’s Circle. I am convinced that if you have self-confidence and indefatigable courage you can achieve what you want wherever you are. I derive immense self-satisfaction from my success,” she humbly admitted.
Her husband, Earl Perera, is a retired engineer. Her only son, Ravindu Perera, is a Flying Officer. She visits Sri Lanka several times a year and engages in social work without much fanfare. She is a writer as well. She has contributed many articles to the mainstream newspapers on mental disorders. Her novel, Sudu Aiya, is an Education Department approved supplementary reading book in schools.
Courtesy the Sunday Rivira
(Translated by Ananda Elkaduwa)