Focus/Spotlight

National Eye Hospital – Bugged!

By Sarah Hannan

The National Eye Hospital in Colombo provides tertiary care services for all eye-related problems, both medically and surgically. Every day, the services of this hospital are accessed by outpatient and inpatient categories after being referred to from hospitals around the country for specialised treatment.

According to the hospital’s Director Dr. W.L.L.U.C. Kumaratilake, the hospital records the highest patient turnover, with most of the procedures carried out in the hospital not requiring patients to be admitted to hospital over long periods of time.

Just over a week ago, a patient had taken to social media to vent their frustration over the cleanliness of the ward in which she was receiving treatment. The patient had gone to the National Eye Hospital to attend to her eye problem and while receiving treatment at the ward, had to undergo an unpleasant experience as the bed that was assigned to her was allegedly infested with bugs.

Ruwi Lankage had posted a review on the hospital’s location check-in page on social media stating that she does not recommend the hospital.

Her comment read as follows: “It is really terrible and (I am) frustrated about the cleanliness of the wards. Patients are coming for eye treatment/after operation/some sort of eye infection, henceforth they have to open their eye(s) just because of (the) huge number of bedbugs! I couldn’t close my eye(s) for a minute to rest! Please ensure the facility’s cleanliness as soon as possible!”

She had also posted a picture of what appeared to be a bedbug on a white sheet.

Situation controlled

The Sunday Morning spoke to National Eye Hospital Director Dr. W.L.L.U.C. Kumaratilake to inquire about the allegations.

Dr. Kumaratilake, responding to the question, stated: “This is not a new issue and is not an issue that is only affecting the eye hospital. Even other government hospitals get infested with bedbugs from time to time. Once the infestations are reported, we take the necessary measures to get rid of them.”

When asked whether the disinfestation severely inconveniences the patients receiving treatment at the hospital, Dr. Kumaratilake stated that due to the high turnover of patients, the situation is easily managed.

“When we disinfest a ward, we generally move the patients to another ward. Once the ward is cleared off, the insecticides are applied to all the furniture. We also clean all the mattresses, pillows, and sheets as well to ensure they are disinfested of the bedbugs,” Dr. Kumaratilake added.

At the time of speaking to Dr. Kumaratilake, The Sunday Morning was informed that the disinfestation of wards was still ongoing and would continue until all 18 wards of the hospital were disinfested. When asked whether the bedbug infestations took place during a particular period, Dr. Kumaratilake said that the staff had not identified a time period and they often start disinfesting wards after patients start reporting bedbug bites.

Furthermore, the hospital also prohibits patients from bringing mattresses, pillows, and sheets from home to prevent the spread of bedbugs.

The Sunday Morning also contacted health service unions to inquire about the situation at the National Eye Hospital. However they were not in a position to comment as they were unaware of the situation.