Festival of Trees needs your support

As the Ponoka and District Health Foundation (PDHF) gears up for its crowning fundraising event of the year, the Festival of Trees, it’s reminding the community of the important role it performs in supporting health care locally.

About the event

The Festival of Trees, an annual holiday event, will be held November 14 to 17, 2019 at the Stagecoach Saloon at the Ponoka Stampede grounds.

Tickets for events will be on sale starting in September.

The four-day event in 2019 will include the Opening Night Gala and Auction, Seniors Candy Cane Coffee, Ladies Wine Night, Family Fun Day and Beef ‘n’ Beer Fest. There will also be a Gift Shop offering a variety of gifts and Christmas items to purchase. An open house of the viewing of the decorated trees happens throughout the weekend.

This year, the PDHF has taken over the coordination and implementation of the event and hired an event coordinator, Charlotte Winters.

All funds raised will be used to enhance and sustain quality health care in the community, supporting the areas of greatest need.

New this year

This is the Ponoka and District Health Foundation’s first year as the organizing body of the Festival of Trees.

Before the foundation took over the organizing and running of the festival, the festival organizers did the fundraising and the foundation managed the funds. Now the Foundation has taken on the event.

“Because of that the festival is going to look quite different this year,” said Jennifer Parker, who has been a board member on the foundation since 2016.

The foundation is hoping to grow community involvement and outreach.

“Health care impacts everyone in Ponoka so we’re trying to incorporate everyone,” said Winters.

Why support the foundation?

Since 2016, the Ponoka and District Health Foundation has paid out over $800,000 for equipment, projects and initiatives that have improved health care in and around Ponoka.

Having a foundation allows funds raised locally to stay in the community. Otherwise funds would go to the province and be redistributed.

Alberta Health Care funds existing programs’ operating costs, but will not always fund the start-up and equipment purchasing expenses of a new initiative or program.

“Once there, Alberta Health will fund the program. It’s a real collaboration between Alberta Health and the foundation that we are able to have these programs in our community,” said Parker.

With the foundation, Ponoka and other communities that have followed suit and formed foundations of their own, are able to bring specialized, state-of-the-art programs to their communities.

After the 15 founding members formed Ponoka’s health foundation in 2011, it spurned dozens of other communities in Alberta to do the same, according to Dorothy Ungstad, foundation chair, adding patients come from other communities to Ponoka because of the services available here, such as the endoscopy program.

The foundation significantly contributed to the new endoscopy program headed by Dr. Hilgard Goosen at the Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre, a very specialized program that is rare to find anywhere else.

Cardiac monitoring system

The fundraising focus for this year’s festival of trees is a new cardiac monitoring system for the Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre.

READ MORE: 2019 Festival of Trees will fund much-needed cardiac monitoring system

This is a phase project as the complete system is quite expensive, with a total estimated cost of $250,000 and has several parts and stages of implementation.

The system includes monitors at nurses’ stations so they can track cardiac vitals of patients remotely, telemetry packs for patients, giving them more freedom to walk around while still being monitored, and integration with Connect Care.

Connect Care allows physicians around the province to view patient vitals in real-time and allows specialists to give consultations without a patient ever having to leave Ponoka.

Past projects

The funds raised through the 2018 Festival of Trees and its partner the Hospital Auxiliary paid for a $220,000 remodelling of the tub room in long-term care at the hospital.

In 2019, the foundation funded just over $14,000 for high back glider chairs and about $5,000 for sleeper chairs.

Festival of Trees funded equipment for the endoscopy program in 2017 to a total of $178,296.92.

READ MORE: Health foundation looking to expand endoscopy program

The foundation also funded a new procedure room for the hospital along with the Hospital Auxiliary, purchasing a wheel chair, bed and stretcher.

Current sponsors

Confirmed cash sponsors as of Aug. 19 are: Eagle Builders, VJV, Ponoka County, Town of Ponoka, Battle River Insurance/ The Cooperators, Rowland Parker and Associates LLP, Seasons Ponoka, FCSS, Shoppers Drug Mart, Ponoka Professional Pharmacy, Servus Credit Union, Adams Chevrolet Ponoka, Julie’s Travel and Ponoka Co-op Oils.

Confirmed in kind donations are: Rose Creations LLP, Avenue Living, Ponoka News, Ponoka Stampede Association, Sunny 94, Flowers for You, Ponoka Golf Club, Accu Publishing, Via Rail and Real Country 95.5 Z98.9.

For more information on the Festival of Trees contact Winters at info@ponokafestivaloftrees.ca.

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