A true son of Sri Lanka, Dr Siriwardena is no abuser of free education as he paid back by building a patient’s dream ward.
The Neurosurgical Unit at the Kandy Teaching Hospital is a whole new concept, totally different from the typical government ward concept. In fact, its architectural semantics are those we encounter in a high-end spa. Perhaps, this doctor’s idea was to make people who come to the unit feel as if they are languishing in a spa, from point of entry to wellbeing and discharge.
A lavender fragrance engulfs the ward for 24 hours along with an ever obliging 55-member staff.
It has acquired a facelift like a five star hotel after renovations and patients who visit the Kandy Teaching Hospital are left mesmerized by its spick and span Neurosurgical Unit.
“A person who comes for treatment should not feel that this is a hospital. I wanted to give them an aura of a hotel or temple. The ward is now a calm and quiet place where people can feel at home,” said Dr. Siriwardena.
Consultant Neurosurgeon Dr. W.D.L. Siriwardena is the brainchild of this monumental renovation of the Neurosurgical Unit, Ward 73/74.
“I owed thousands of rupees for the free education I received in this country on my way to becoming a doctor. Renovating the ward was my own way of paying back. I can be satisfied with myself as I have paid back by serving with my profession and by lending a helping hand to develop the country in my own small way,” said Dr. Siriwardena.
He cannot hide his happiness at being able to initiate the renovation and transform the ward into a five-star hotel, although it is technically the duty of the government.
Dr. Siriwardena said that though developing wards and hospitals is not the job profile of a doctor, he considered it his duty to go a step further.
“Now I am not in debt to my country,” said Dr. Siriwardena as he proudly looked back at his achievement after transforming the Neurosurgical Unit from an unattractive place to a most pleasant and inviting section for patients.
“Earlier the ward was gloomy and dark. The toilets were awful and there was not much of a difference where the dining section and staff room were concerned,” recalled Dr. Sriwardena.
Armed with a mammoth plan, Dr. Siriwardena performed the arduous task of transforming the dilapidated ward, knowing that he had the full support of Mallika Hemachandra Jewellers, Shriyani Dress Point and Dambulla Trade Union. His eagerness, perseverance and attitude were the backbone of this project. And it was all that was necessary to get the ball rolling.
“Though you may have millions in money, if your attitude is not good then your money is worthless,” says Dr. Sriwardena. Getting to the target was the actual challenge, he recalls. “This was something different for me.”
Even his staff didn’t appreciate it initially, complaining about the loud noises, during construction. “It was because they couldn’t see the larger picture. But I knew what we would end up with. I had this image in my head. So I pushed on,” said Dr. Siriwardena, recollecting the challenges he had to face.
Finding the right kind of friends in Kandy, to fund his little project proved to be a challenge because his hometown was Colombo. Yet the retired ward shifter Mrs. Marasinghe was able to lend a helping hand at every turn.”
While transforming the ward, Dr. Siriwardena was also able to transform the attitudes of his staff, who are now as accommodating and as hospitable as the staff of any five-star hotel.
But one thing worries Dr. Siriwardena; the future of his dream ward, the day he may be transferred to another hospital. “I don’t know what the future will be. I don’t know how well my successor will maintain the ward,” said Dr. Siriwardena.
He intends to start a fund by way of a fixed bank deposit so that its monthly interest can be channelled towards the maintenance of the ward in the future.
Dr. Siriwardana thanks his parents, teachers from Piliyandala Central College and S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia where he received his higher education, all of whom have helped him immensely on his way to becoming a salutary personality.
He says that he is also ever grateful to his lecturers from the University of Colombo, Senior Consultant Neurosurgeon Dr. Sunil Perera from whom he received training at the Royal Preston Hospital in the United Kingdom.
“I have to thank all my patients and the staff for their helping hand,” said Dr. Siriwardena, a father of two sons and a devoted husband to Dimuthu who stands by him at all times.