Festival of Trees

Kootenai Health Foundation’s 2021 event supports neuroscience technology

By Taylor Shillam

A celebrated holiday event returns to Coeur d’Alene this month, as the Kootenai Health Foundation celebrates its 33rd annual Festival of Trees.


A North Idaho favorite due to its beautiful display of trees and gathering of support for community health care, the Festival of Trees gala event will once again be held virtually on Saturday, November 27.


“We were fortunate to have had a successful Festival in 2020, in spite of the pandemic requiring us to transition to a virtual event,” said Julie Holt, president of the Kootenai Health Foundation. “Because of the continued surge of COVID-19 cases in our region, we are going to once again host our event virtually and look forward to celebrating with our community in a similar format.”


The Kootenai Health Foundation was created to partner with the community and help transform health care in Northern Idaho. It started the Health Care Heroes Fund to support the Kootenai Health staff through the unprecedented needs of the pandemic, including a second COVID-19 Testing Analyzer for the hospital, ICU respiratory equipment, telehealth programs, and the opening of relaxation-focused “Zen Rooms” for hospital staff.


Support provided to the Kootenai Health Foundation helps support the nonprofit hospital achieve its missions and deliver on its commitment to serve every patient. The foundation connects the community with options to support the hospital during the year, including fundraising events like the Festival of Trees.


The Festival of Trees has become established as one of the largest, most treasured events in North Idaho. The festival is the area’s longest-running holiday event and has raised more than $8 million in funds since its inception over three decades ago.

This year, the Festival of Trees’ fundraising efforts will focus on enhancing Kootenai Health’s state-of-the-art neurosurgery program with new equipment and technology.

“As a leader in health care, Kootenai Health continues to improve and enhance the life-changing services available for patients in the Inland Northwest,” the organization stated. “One of the most intricate, delicate and complex specialties offered at Kootenai Health is neurosurgery.”


The intricate nature of the practice requires neurosurgeons to rely heavily on advanced technology and equipment in the operating room.


Funds raised from the Festival of Trees will support the Kootenai Health Neurosurgery Department in acquiring two new pieces of equipment: the StealStation S8 Surgical Navigation System and the KINEVO microscope. Kootenai Health has deemed the equipment necessary in order to improve patient outcomes through reduced blood loss, faster recovery, and minimizing the need for additional surgeries.


The StealStation S8 is a “neuro-navigation and computer-based surgical guidance system” that has widely become an important component of neurosurgery practices.

“This technology allows neurosurgeons to be extremely precise when working on the brain,” Holt explained. “For example, if they’re working to remove a brain tumor, this equipment will allow them to only remove the tumor tissue and none of the healthy brain tissue.”


The KINEVO microscope is known to provide greater visual acuity with state-of-the-art function. “This equipment combines optical and digital visualization for precise instrumentation placement,” Holt said.


“As Kootenai Health’s neurosurgery and neuroscience programs expand to meet the needs of our growing community, our surgeons require the best tools possible to provide the best possible outcomes for their patients,” Holt said. “Both of these high-tech pieces of equipment will greatly reduce surgery and recovery time, which is better for everyone.”


To support the acquisition of new cutting-edge equipment, this year’s festival has the fundraising goal of $1.1 million.


Sponsorship opportunities are now available for the event, including Tree Sponsorships that allow sponsors to decorate and submit an artificial tree to the festival, as well as Friends of the Festival Sponsorships.


This year’s sponsorship packages will include meals, a hotel room for the night of the Festival Gala, and tickets to view the display of trees.


With the purchase of every $200 ticket, guests will be able to pick up a charcuterie box complete with wine, champagne or sparkling cider, and a special dessert. The charcuterie spreads are designed to be enjoyed at home throughout the virtual event, or from the Coeur d’Alene Resort hotel room provided to sponsors.


The trees themselves are uniquely crafted and themed. Last year’s set of trees included themes like “Starry Night,” “Winter Elegance” and “Santa Claus is Camping in Town,” combining elements of North Idaho life and holiday cheer. This year’s trees can be viewed by appointment only with Friends of the Festival sponsorship tickets or with the purchase of a $200 event ticket. “The success of this iconic event is largely credited to our many sponsors who generously give as an investment in Kootenai Health,” Holt said. “Sponsorships and individual commitments help support care for family, friends and our entire community well into the future.”


The virtual gala event will include the auction, performed by local leaders Rose Backs and Charlie Linder, and live entertainment. “Musical entertainment will be provided by some of our Emergency Department heroes,” Holt said. “Not only do they work hard to care for our patients, but they are musically talented and fun to watch.”


The Festival of Trees represents an opportunity to celebrate and support the advancement of community health. “It has become an important community event,” Holt shared. “We eagerly await the time when we can safely celebrate in person again, with our friends and supporters.”


Admission tickets and raffle tickets to the virtual gala event are available now. Detailed information on tickets, sponsorships and more can be found at KH.org/festival.



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