The Merrill J. Fernando High Dependency Care Facility was inaugurated on August 16, at the Nawalapitiya District General Hospital. The facility is funded by Dilmah Ceylon Tea Company and its associate Kahawatte Plantations with the facilitation of the MJF Charitable Foundation. Named after the Ceylon Teamaker who devoted his life to tea, the facility will provide specialised medical care for the predominantly tea estate workers in Nawalapitiya, also serving the Central Province.
District General Hospital Nawalapitiya (DGHN) currently provides healthcare services for 500,000 people from the surrounding tea estates, and adjacent Kandy and Nuwara Eliya districts. Current hospital capacity is not sufficient to accommodate demand, especially pandemic related patient surges.
The High Dependency Unit is housed in a structure that has been comprehensively refurbished to expand DGHN’s clinical care capacity and strengthen its COVID 19 response. The HDU includes the most advanced medical equipment and respiratory support systems to manage patients with severe COVID-19 and other respiratory ailments.
“A comprehensive HDU is a timely need for the hospital in the management of COVID 19 patients who suffer from respiratory distress. This will expand our capacity to save lives closer to their source without having to transfer patients and serve the needs of our population locally” said Dr M. Nihal Weerasooriya, Provincial Director of Health Services in the Central Province.
Dilmah Tea Company PLC Kahawatte Plantations PLC and Package Care Ltd, – all part of the MJF Group – collaborated with the Provincial Health Services in the Central Province to support this initiative. This ensured quick, cost-effective and efficient refurbishment of the facility, procurement and installation of specialized equipment.
The Foundation was established by its Settlor, Merrill J. Fernando to use earnings from his Dilmah Tea business to serve humanity.
“We face a health crisis of unprecedented magnitude. Every individual and business should do what is possible to ease the pain that the pandemic is causing. Our business was formed by my father to serve humanity and this Merrill J. Fernando High Dependency Care Unit in Nawalapitiya is a part of the fulfilment of that pledge.” said son of Merrill J. Fernando and Dilmah Ceylon Tea Company CEO Dilhan C. Fernando.
Dilmah and Kahawatte Plantations continue to support the plantation community, its initiatives range from healthcare and education to livelihoods support, skills training, and infrastructure including housing. In May 2021, a total of SLR 2.3 million was raised and matched twice over by Dilmah’s MJF Charitable Foundation as part of the sector-wide Stronger Together Initiative.
The MJF Foundation is funded by Settlor’s commitment to 15% for Humanity from the pre-tax profits of Dilmah Tea and ancillary MJF Group companies.
The Merrill J. Fernando Foundation has also partnered with MilleniumIT Esp, 99X, Fortude and Microsoft in developing unique disability and teletherapy apps.