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South Valley Journal

Care Center Turns Hospital into Home

May 05, 2016 03:27PM ● By Tori La Rue

By Tori La Rue | [email protected]

South Valley - Many residents aren’t aware of the Country Life Care Center in Riverton, which is nestled behind a spacious parking lot off of Redwood Road and Bangerter Highway, owner Saundra Buckley said. 

The red, modern-barn-style building houses children and adults who are receiving respiratory care while recovering from catastrophic injury or illness. Buckley occasionally brings her dog, horses and alpacas to visit the patients, and the inside of the facility is filled with murals of the outdoors, country-western décor and wooden furniture. 

“Traditionally these facilities are institutional-looking and -feeling, but I decorated this place myself, because I didn’t want it to feel like a health care facility,” Buckley said. “Some of these patients are here for a while and this is their home. We want to focus on giving them a home-type environment.”

The center is one of the only two rehabilitation centers in the state that offer pediatric intensive respiratory care, according to Buckley, and the other center, in Davis County, looks like any other type of medical institution. That’s why Kyrie Butler chose to place her 2-year-old daughter, Hayden, in the Country Life Care Center. 

“We don’t have the tools to help her at home, and when the doctors said to put her in a nursing home for children, we didn’t know if she would get the attention that she needs, but she is,” Butler said. “I really like Country Life. It feels like she is in her own room at her house, instead of having a hospitalized feel.” 

Hayden has three older siblings, and they decorated her room with posters, 50 stuffed animals and glow-in-the-dark stars to help Hayden feel at home. Hayden’s 12-year-old sister loves to visit her, Butler said. 

“When patients have a sister or brother who wants to come see them, we don’t want them to be afraid, and most kids are afraid of hospitals,” Buckley said. “We have a beautiful environment to help people of all ages want to visit. Environment really affects people.” 

Hayden’s catastrophic injury hasn’t been easy for her family, but the center helped, Butler said. 

“Hayden was the kind of kid that would never hold still. She was always climbing on things,” Butler said. “Watching her be immobilized is the hardest part.” 

On Oct. 23, Kyrie Butler had a seizure while driving and lost control of her vehicle. Their vehicle crashed into the back of a utility vehicle. Butler said she regained coherency for less than a minute and was able to see some “good Samaritan” witnesses who began performing CPR on Hayden before medical professionals could get to the scene. 

Butler had some broken bones and internal bleeding, but after a few days at the hospital, it seemed as though she would heal. Hayden, on the other hand, who had been at Primary Children’s Hospital, seemed to have more long-term effects. The 2-year-old’s spine was stretched, leaving her immobile and a quadriplegic.

“I felt so guilty, but I learned that you have to stay positive or the darkness will eat you alive,” Butler said. “I go see her every day, and on weekends they put out a mattress for me in her room and I stay there.” 

Hayden has a recent obsession with the movie “Happy Feet,” which she watches at least once daily. She also loves having people read to her and playing peak-a-boo with her visitors and staff members, according to Butler. Country Life has one of the highest staff-to-patient ratios in the country, and Hayden has a lot of friends, so she is visited often.

“She’s happy,” Butler said. “It’s amazing to see her coping, and that helps me cope.” 

Butler hopes one day Hayden will get off her ventilator and come back home. For more information about Hayden, visit the Butlers’ GoFundMe page: “Kyrie Butler Cumming/Hayden Butler.” 

 “I think the biggest difference for these families is that after they find us at Country Life they say, ‘I can do this. I couldn’t do this before, but now I can,’” Buckley said. “It is so rewarding and personal to help patients get better and get home.” 

For more information about Country Life Care Center, visit