The Red Deer Health Foundation’s annual Festival of Trees fundraising event had a ‘Renaissance’ this year, said Foundation chair Bob Bilton.
The event raised a record $1.2 million for laboratory equipment and the newborn, neonatal intensive care unit.
Dr. Garnet Horne, department head of laboratory medicine at the Red Deer Regional Hospital, spoke about how ecstatic staff was to be the recipients of this year’s efforts.
“It’s a huge benefit for physicians and patients,” he said.
“This equipment would not be a reality for us without Festival of Trees. The money donated is above and beyond our ordinary operating costs, which are completely consumed.”
The funds will go towards the purchase of testing equipment for the laboratories benefiting 500,000 people in Central Alberta and keeping the labs current for the next 10 years.
The hospital labs receive about 200,000 samples annually not only coming in from the Red Deer hospital but also from 30 other laboratories in the region that refer complex cases to them.
They test microbiology and hematology samples.
These include swabs, blood tests and fluid samples the doctor takes to diagnosis anything from throat infections to cancer.
Dr. Horne said this equipment will make testing faster and more accurate.
Doing blood tests manually, as they currently do with slides and a microscope, can take up to 45 minutes for a complicated case.
“It was more than a twenty-five per cent increase,” said Alaine Martin, Foundation events manager, of what was raised in comparison to last year’s results.
The Foundation raised $950,000 at last year’s Festival of Trees.
Volunteer Shannon Hazuka, events assistant, said she thought there were a few things that they did differently that made a real difference.
These included moving the stage to the centre of the space and putting more emphasis on ‘the Gift of Giving’ where individuals and companies can donate directly and receive a tax receipt.
The Gift of Giving brought in approximately $240,000.
Meanwhile, the laboratory department was the recipient of the Foundation grant in 2012 and before that not since 1994.