TREE-MENDOUS - From left

Festival of Trees totals higher than expected

Officials with the annual Red Deer event are thankful for community support

  • Dec. 13, 2016 9:10 p.m.

The Festival of Trees raised $950,000 for the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre this year, funds that will go toward Phase 2 of the Medical Specialty Clinic project.

That number is down from last year’s $1.06 million but Iaian Park, executive director of the Red Deer Regional Health Foundation, said it still exceeded expectations considering the current recession.

He added it spoke to the generosity of Central Albertans that they still found room in their budgets to give in these hard times.

“Five dollars makes as much difference added up over time so I appreciate everything Central Alberta does,” Park said.

The Medical Specialty Clinic provides patients living with acute and chronic conditions to see a healthcare team without being hospitalized or sent to the emergency room, freeing up beds. Phase 2 will include a Parkinson’s clinic, enhancements to the inflammatory bowel clinic and other upgrades.

“It actually saves the government a lot of money, keeping people in their homes as opposed to having them in the hospital, in a bed. It’s really a cost saving rather than a cost to the hospital system so it’s unfortunate we don’t get more support from AHS,” said Bob Bilton, Foundation chair.

The Festival of Trees has now raised close to $14 million for the hospital since 1994.

Some of the projects made possible through the annual fundraiser include labs in the basement, two operating theatres as well as equipment.

“These things wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for Central Albertans and committing funds to that,” Park said. “At the end of the day, there’s a certain budget that goes around the province and citizens of Central Alberta have stepped up and decided they wanted to contribute and enhance healthcare in their area.”

Amidst the celebratory breakfast held at the Holiday Inn and Suites yesterday morning, Bilton seemed frustrated with Alberta Health, suggesting that funding allocation for health care has been politicized.

“Edmonton and Calgary, because perhaps the number of MLAs that they have in those areas, get more support in their medical system than we do in Red Deer. As a matter of fact, we’ve seen Red Deer drop off the list on a number of projects that had been planned,” he said, adding that the Red Deer Hospital is a high-acuity hospital.

“We’re talking to the minister to say what’s going on, this is unfair, Red Deer’s not being serviced to the standard the rest of the province is.”

Kathy Saunders was the outgoing co-chair this year with Terri Williams to step into her role alongside Krista Spelt next year.

Park praised Saunders and Spelt for their volunteer work.

“They did a great job. This was a tough year. The economy did catch up to us. Last year we were over $1 million and this year we knew it was going to be tough,” he said. “These people show up, they’re not paid, they’re contributing time.”

joseph.ho@reddeerexpress.com

Just Posted

Red Deerian receives nation’s highest volunteer honour

Sharon Schultz awarded the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers

Man dead after collision in Red Deer County

A second man taken to hospital with injuries; cause of collision remains under investigation

Home reno show set for this weekend

Event takes place at Red Deer’s Westerner Park Oct. 20th-22nd

United Way Central Alberta holds Sockey Night

Sockey Night in Red Deer is Oct. 21st

Sexual and Gender Diversity Campaign set for next week

Red Deer College’s Students’ Association hosting campaign Oct. 24th and 26th

WATCH: Foster and Kinship Caregiver Week on now

Red Deer ceremony honours foster families

Police officer hit by car, stabbed in Edmonton attack back on job

Const. Mike Chernyk, 48, returned to work Thursday

Berry disappointed: Bear tries to eat fake fruit on woman’s door wreath

A Winnipeg woman has taken her berry-embellished wreath down, after a hungry bear visited her porch

All three victims identified in Fernie arena ammonia leak

Wayne Hornquist and Lloyd Smith were from Fernie and Jason Podloski from Turner Valley, Alta

4 B.C. prisons install body scanners to combat drug smuggling

The scanners are aimed to combat the smuggling of contraband including weapons and drugs

Outspoken Mountie assigned to admin duties for refusing to shave goatee

The 15-year veteran of the force said he believes the RCMP is targeting him

Victim in fatal ammonia leak remembered for his passion and smile

Friends and colleagues remember Lloyd Smith as someone who was always willing to help people

Plane lands on Highway 97 near Prince George

Pilot safely makes emergency landing on a highway

Canadian planet hunter seeking alien life

‘The shifting line of what is crazy’ says Toronto-born astrophysicist

Most Read