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PAUSE: From death ward to a true healing facility

PAUSE: From death ward to a true healing facility

by Tina Arceo-Dumlao

Up until about three years ago, many of the children who were taken to the pediatric intensive care unit of the Ospital ng Maynila did not leave the room alive.

The sick children’s already slim chances of survival became even slimmer due to the high incidence of infection brought on by severe lack of facilities. The paint on the beds was peeling, the floors were a patchwork of tiles, and the ceilings bore the ugly marks of water leaks.

Nothing to work with

Residents and nurses on duty even had to crudely fashion neo-natal respirators out of cut-up water gallons to fit the babies’ heads. They had nothing else to work with.

But visit the ICU today and it presents a vastly different picture. The beds are now made of stainless steel, the floors are rubberized, the windows have curtains, and the walls are painted with pictures to help along sick children on their road to recovery. Also, cases of infection that have long plagued the ICU patients are now down to a minimum.

Nobody could be more proud of the pediatric ICU improvement than the employees of accounting and tax advisory firm Punongbayan & Araullo (P&A), who financed the improvement by contributing their hard earned money to P&A for a Cause (PAUSE).

The pediatric ICU has been renamed the “Jose G. Araullo Pediatric Intensive Care Unit,” in honor of P&A’s Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus. The ward is just one of the many projects that the employees voluntarily support through PAUSE.

PAUSE projects coordinator Joseph Ayson said P&A for a Cause was formed in November 2002 out of the desire of the employees to be involved in community work, and not be confined to their work in the auditing, accounting and financial consulting profession.

“It is purely voluntary, employees just thought of doing something to give back,” Ayson says.

Feeding program

In February 2003, PAUSE had its first project, dubbed P&AKAIN, a community feeding program conceptualized by the Department of Social Welfare and Development. Under the program, 30 malnourished children from one of the most underprivileged communities in General Trias, Cavite were given hot meals everyday for six months to bring up their weight to normal levels.

Encouraged by the success of the first project, PAUSE partnered with more groups and government agencies to reach out to more beneficiaries.

Last year, PAUSE started work on its biggest project to date. Under Project: P&Aaralan, an adopt a school project, a school’s infrastructure and utilities will be upgraded, over the next three years.

The work to be done, in coordination with the Philippine Business for Social Progress, will also include the donation of books and other school items that the students will need.

Ambitious project

Ayson says P&Aaralan is an ambitious project. But he is confident that with the employees donating an hour’s equivalent of their salary a month to the fund--which is matched by P&A itself--PAUSE will see the project through. Some 75 percent of P&A’s nearly 500 employees contribute to the fund, and a good number do the actual work.

Ayson says it is heartening that many former employees of P&A, especially those who have gone abroad, continue to send money home to contribute to PAUSE.

Francis Albalate, partner in charge of PAUSE, says management has thrown its full support behind PAUSE because it is an ideal avenue for P&A to reach out to its community, while it gives employees another reason to be proud of themselves and the firm.

“PAUSE helps motivate them because they know that the firm is not just about profit or clients,” Albalate says.

In helping others, they ultimately help themselves.

(Published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, April 19, 2006)