Skip to main content

The City Journals

Care Center Turns Hospital into Home for 2-Year-Old

May 05, 2016 04:25PM ● By Tori La Rue

By Tori La Rue | [email protected]

Taylorsville - Seven months ago, 2-year-old Hayden Butler was the kind of kid who could never sit still, according to her mother, Kyrie Butler, but now she has no other option. 

On Oct. 23, Butler had a seizure while driving, lost control of her vehicle and sent the car crashing into the back of a utility vehicle, she said. 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, Butler said. 

“I felt so guilty, but I learned that you have to stay positive or the darkness will eat you alive,” Butler said. “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 does.” 

Because Hayden’s family would be unable to take care of her at home, doctors suggested putting her in a nursing home for children, Butler said. At first Butler was opposed to the idea, but after she toured the Country Life Care Center, she said she was more open to it. Hayden moved into the center, and the Butlers moved from Salt Lake City to Taylorsville to be closer to their youngest child. 

The red, modern-barn-style building, located in Riverton off of Redwood Road and Bangerter Highway, houses children and adults who are receiving respiratory care while recovering from catastrophic injury or illness. The owners, Bob and Saundra Buckley, occasionally bring their 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,” Saundra 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. 

“I really like Country Life. It feels like she is in her own room at her house, instead of having a hospitalized feel,” Butler said.  

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 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, according to Butler. Butler visits her daughter every day and sleeps over on weekends. 

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

Butler said that she 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.” For more information about Country Life Care Center, visit