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Kurunegala Hospital Chief removed due to alleged failure to prepare for COVID 19

ECONOMYNEXT – The government has removed the head of the Kurunegala Teaching Hospital (KTH) because he has allegedly failed to prepare the institution to face the COVID 19 threat.

The Kurunegala district has seen a sudden upsurge in COVID 19 cases since April 25.

In a letter sent to the Director of the KTH Dr Sarath Weerabandara yesterday May 7, the Secretary to the Ministry of Health Bhadrani Jayawardhana has asked him to relinquish duties and hand over the administration of the hospital to his deputy.

She has also said that she has received numerous complaints that the necessary precautions to prepare the hospital to deal with the COVID 19 threat has not been taken by him.

In a note the Director-General of Health Services Dr Anil Jasinghe has asked Weerabandara to report to the Ministry where a preliminary inquiry will be held to ascertain the veracity of the complaints against him.

The politically powerful Government Medical Officers Association wrote to Jayawardhana earlier in the week, complaining against Weerabandara.

The Media Spokesman for the GMOA Dr. Navin de Zoysa told EconomyNext that his unions was not the only body to complain against Bandara.

“The whole hospital rose against him,” de Zoysa said.

He added that Weerabandara had “created unnecessary tensions and clashes between various groups.”

The KTH is one of the biggest hospitals in the country with facilities to treat all major diseases.

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It currently had 11 patients suspected of COVID 19 under observation.

The Kurunegala district also has nine so-called high-risk Red zones where COVID 19 positive patients have been diagnosed between April 25 and 29, according to the Epidemiology Unit of the Ministry of Health.

In this period 19 new patients have been discovered in Kuliyapitiya, Polgahawela, Alawwa, Wariyapola, Maho, Polpithigama, Galgamuwa and Nikaweratiya.

Weerabandara was often featured in the media last year when he led the charge against a doctor working in the KTH, Obstetrician Dr Shafi Siyabdeen.

Shafi was accused of rendering thousands of Sinhala Buddhist women sterile by damaging their fallopian tubes when he was performing caesarian sections on them.

After a lengthy CID investigation Shafi was exonerated but the new government has resumed a fresh inquiry against him.

Weerabandara who is seen as a favourite of the ruling Podujana Peramuna party appeared as an “expert witness” in a magisterial inquiry into Shafi’s charges.

He was forced to withdraw when Shafi’s lawyers objected to him purporting to be an expert on obstetrics when it was proved that the Hospital Director had only training as a Dentist. (Colombo, May 8, 2020)