Monday 20th May, 2024

The Pediatric Assistance League (PALS) was formally operationalized with the opening of an account at Scotiabank called the Pedifund in 1991.

The PALS concept was triggered by a conversation between Mrs. Nova Mallalieu and Dr. Macmilla Hodge over the donation of an electrocardiogram (EKG) machine for the JNF Pediatric Ward. After further discussion, the EKG donation was deferred and the scope of donation widened to include other needs deemed more pressing at the time.

"The return on investment in PALS has been the improvement in the quality of life of dozens of the nation’s children."

As is generally the case in public hospitals, paying salaries and wages accounts for up to seventy percent of the expenditure budget. The rest of the budget is consumed by medicines, supplies, equipment, and other recurrent needs. This often leaves very little fiscal space to meet niche needs.

With pediatric service formally starting in 1990, another niche area was added to the list of competitors for resources. Recognizing the inevitability of funding shortfalls, the idea of a private sector-based foundation to support St. Kitts and Nevis Pediatrics took root. Over the years, the development of PALS has been nurtured, first under of Mrs. Mallalieu’s stewardship in the 1990’s then Mrs. Ann Fish.

Two accounts were established: a parent account and a petty cash account. The informal agreement was that the Mrs. Mallalieu/Fish will replenish the former by coordinating fund-raising activities. The latter, will be controlled by the JNF Pediatrician (initially Dr. Patrick Martin; since 2012, primarily Dr. Ian Jacobs) so that identified needs may be met in an expeditious manner. A telephone call from the doctor leads to the top-up of the petty cash account required.

The arrangement continues to be a win-win. Pediatric benefactors have a transparent and accountable means to make contributions to service development. Contributions translate to donations which continue to assist children of both islands to access needed care.

Teddy BearSince 1990, approximately four children per year have been assisted by PALS mostly in the form of meeting the expenses of the logistics associated with their referrals overseas. The Federation benefits from relationships with US-based charities such as Healing the Children and the World Pediatric Project. In other cases, rather than incurring the expenses of overseas referral, PALS covered the lower costs of bringing the specialist to the Federation to perform procedures. On occasion PALS has also assisted by paying the freight costs of needed assisted living devices donated by other agencies for physically challenged children, or bypaying for expensive medications not available on the government formulary and beyond the capability of parents’ budgets.

Government has been an essential and willing partner also, by usually waiving duty on items / services brought in by PALS; on occasion JNF has also assisted by sharing with PALS the freight charges on various items.

The hospitals on both islands have also benefitted from donations. Pediatric wards interior spaces have been painted and decorated (especially at Christmas), and pieces of equipment purchased (duty exempt).

The return on investment in PALS has been the improvement in the quality of life of dozens of the nation’s children. Their families are appreciative.