UPDATED: Red Deer Festival of Trees raises more than $1 million

Festival of Trees held last month at Westerner Park

The Festival of Trees raised $1.1 million during its 25th year to fund more automated medication dispensing stations at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.

“Red Deer is one of the last hospitals to actually get the Pyxis system, which is really kind of unfortunate. This technology existed in Edmonton and Calgary for quite some time,” said Bob Bilton, board chair with the Red Deer Regional Health Foundation, at the festival’s breakfast announcement held at the Holiday Inn & Suites in Gasoline Alley on Tuesday.

He said without the foundation’s fundraising efforts, Red Deer would not have the same standard of care as other centres.

“We as a community are doing everything we can to support our hospital. We need AHS to be there with us,” said Bilton.

He said central Alberta has exceeded the population required for highly technical services such as cardiac catheterization at the Red Deer hospital.

“There’s still a bit of a reluctance on the part of AHS to bring those services here because of the fact that it is quite challenging to fund the operational dollars. But we believe that we need that service.

“AHS is showing signs of wanting to help with the development of this hospital. I believe truly in the next five to 10 years, we will have major redevelopment here that will bring the same level of services that every other hospital has. We just need to keep pushing,” Bilton said.

Money raised by the Festival of Trees was down slightly this year from 2017, when $1.2 million was raised, but it was more than the $950,000 raised in 2016.

Bilton said it’s remarkable how well the annual event does in good times and bad.

“You can’t say enough about this community and the willingness to go above and beyond, even during the most difficult of economic times. The donors are absolutely incredible.”

He said volunteers, who have already started work on the 2019 festival, are responsible for making the fundraiser an annual success.

“They are my inspiration. It makes me feel good about who I am, as an Albertan, as a member of the Red Deer community.”


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