Red Deer’s Festival of Trees was a $1.2-million success that will allow Red Deer Regional Health Foundation to fund an additional hospital project.
Originally money raised from donations, raffles and events at last month’s festival were to go towards laboratory automation in hematology and microbiology at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre to reduce the time it takes to process samples.
But now money can also be used to support the e-Critical program so the neonatal intensive care unit at Red Deer hospital can be part of a single provincial system for critical care charting, documentation and decision support for babies and moms in medically emergent situations who need to be moved to other hospitals.
Iaian Park, chief executive officer with Red Deer Regional Health Foundation, said the foundation is thrilled that both departments will benefit from Festival of Trees.
Last year the festival raised $950,000.
“This year with $1.2 million the economy of Central Alberta is starting to bounce back so we’re absolutely thrilled. Amazing generosity by the donors and sponsors,” Park said at a festival celebration breakfast held Tuesday at Holiday Inn & Suites in Gasoline Alley.
Dr. Garnet Horne, Central Zone clinical department head for laboratory medicine and pathology, said equipment to automate processes that are currently complex and completely manual would not be possible without Festival of Trees.
“It’s hundreds of thousands of dollars and we have difficulty just maintaining our normal equipment and updating it never mind adding hundreds of thousands of dollars of new equipment,” Horne said.
“It will improve our lab capacity so we can take more samples in without having to increase the number of bodies or space to do so. It will improve our results and make them more reproducible and make them quicker,” Horne said.
He said the equipment will benefit not only patients in Red Deer but across Central Zone.
“There are over 30 labs in Central Zone that refer these types of samples into Red Deer,” Horne said.
The 2017 festival entertained over 20,000 guests thanks to the efforts of more than 2,500 volunteers, 1,500 volunteer entertainers and the support of 500 donors.
“Thank you to the volunteers. Without you this event would not be possible. It could not happen. That money could not come into the hospital and it is literally changing lives,” Park said.