‘Help give the gift of health’: Virtual Jubilee of Trees gala supports pediatric medical care in St. George

Raynie Clark, Intermountain Healthcare's Patient Champion for the 2021 Jubliee of Trees, location and date not specified | Photo by Russell Gearhart courtesy of Intermountain Healthcare, St. George News

CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — The Jubilee of Trees, which has helped ring in the holidays in Southern Utah for nearly four decades, is dedicating this year’s event to the true magic of the holiday season: children. 

Raynie Clark, Intermountain Healthcare’s Patient Champion for the 2021 Jubliee of Trees, location and date not specified | Photo by Russell Gearhart courtesy of Intermountain Healthcare, St. George News

Every year, proceeds from the Jubilee of Trees benefit a different medical need in the community through the Intermountain Foundation. The upcoming festival, which will be held virtually from Thursday through Saturday, supports pediatric services at St. George Regional Hospital. 

“Southern Utah’s incredible giving spirit has helped expand our pediatric programs over the years and will continue into the future,” said Dr. Patrick Carroll, a neonatologist and the medical director of St. George Regional Hospital. “We seek continued support more than ever as we host the Jubilee of Trees in a virtual format, and invite the community to help give the gift of health and happiness to children and families.” 

Intermountain Healthcare strives to provide the right care at the right time in the right place, Carroll said. Access to specialty pediatrics improves outcomes for young patients like 8-year-old Raynie Clark. 

Raynie was born with a congenital heart defect, which was corrected with open-heart surgery just before her fifth birthday. In late 2019, her mother, Diana Clark, took her to children’s outpatient services at St. George Regional Hospital because she wasn’t feeling well. Her usual pediatrician wasn’t available, so she saw a new physician who immediately noticed how pale she was. Concerned, he ordered a battery of blood tests.

Raynie’s health quickly took a turn for the worse, and she was rushed to the emergency room, where doctors determined she needed a blood transfusion right away. In less than an hour, she boarded LifeFlight and was on her way to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City. 

Pediatric room at St. George Regional Hospital, St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Intermountain Healthcare, St. George News

“It was the scariest day of my life, but I’m so grateful that both her pediatrician and the lab are right there in the hospital,” Clark said. “It was just minutes until we were where we needed to be to get her help.”   

Raynie was diagnosed with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia and spent several weeks in the hospital before returning home. The Clark family lives in Bunkerville, Nevada, and chose to entrust her ongoing treatment to St. George Regional Hospital. 

Clark said she’s extremely grateful to have pediatric cancer services much closer to home. Otherwise, traveling to Salt Lake City for nearly three years of routine chemotherapy sessions would have been overwhelming both financially and emotionally. The doctors and nurses at St. George Regional Hospital provided exceptional care and support. 

“They became like friends, and I felt warm and safe there. It was an amazing experience,” she said. “For it being the worst time in our lives, it couldn’t have been any better.” 

When Raynie completed her treatments in April, caregivers threw a rainbow-themed party complete with streamers, dessert, dancing and lots of hugs, high-fives and happy tears.

Patrons of the Jubilee of Trees will help children like Raynie access care through the power of an innovative, integrated pediatric network. This effort is part of Intermountain Healthcare’s vision to build a model health care system for children, which will bring the expertise of Primary Children’s Hospital specialists to young patients throughout Southern Utah and surrounding communities via telemedicine, digital health services, dispatched emergency room services and more.

Stock image courtesy of Intermountain Healthcare, St. George News

“People don’t realize how important these services are until you need them yourself, and then they become priceless,” Clark said.  

Now in its 38th year, the Jubilee of Trees is a beloved holiday tradition that showcases beautifully adorned Christmas trees and wreaths created by local designers, artists, individuals, businesses and community groups. It also includes one-of-a-kind handcrafted gifts made by dedicated volunteers plus a bevy of silent auction items available to bid and track online.

Registration is open for the Jubilee of Trees, which grants access to the entire festival. There’s no cost to browse the displays, and patrons can return to the website as many times as they like during the event. Stay tuned for the unveiling of the online store or make a donation anytime via the Intermountain Foundation website.

Written by ALEXA MORGAN for St. George News.

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