RidgeGate Up Close
Fera Butts, Director of Pediatric Services and the Pediatric Emergency Department, Sky Ridge Pediatric ER
“RidgeGate Up Close” is our series of interviews with people who make RidgeGate a more vibrant place. Read the unexpected stories of residents, workers and local leaders who live and work here. Know someone who has a unique perspective or life in RidgeGate? Contact us at email@example.com.
A big thank you to the RidgeGate-based small business, Sarah Neumann Photography for conducting and photographing our RidgeGate Up Close interviews!
This month: Fera Butts, Director of Pediatric Services and the Pediatric Emergency Department, Sky Ridge Pediatric ER
With 25 years of experience in emergency medicine, Fera Butts knows the importance of quality emergency services for the youngest in our community. As Director of Pediatric Services and the Pediatric Emergency Department for Sky Ridge Medical Center, she oversees both In-Patient and ER services. Many on her team have worked at Sky Ridge since its opening in 2003 – a testament to the camaraderie and quality of care they provide. We asked Fera to answer some questions about common misperceptions of her pediatric ER, and to tell us more about the unique qualifications they bring to the care they provide the community.
#1. Let’s talk numbers first. How many people do you have on staff, how many beds, and how many patients are you seeing on average?
Fera: “In our peak season, we see roughly 500 patients a month. June and July are our slower months each year, and we’d see closer to 400 per month. Our busiest months are January through April when the respiratory and flu seasons peak.”
#2. Sky Ridge is a Level 2 Trauma Center. Does the pediatric ER have a designation?
Fera: “Our Pediatric Center is considered ‘undesignated,’ but obviously we are affiliated with the hospital and their Level 2 Trauma Center. If an ambulance were to bring a trauma patient, they’ll go to the adult ER. We do see a lot of walk-in trauma patients, though, so all of our nurses are trained in emergency medicine. Some have done 30+ years in ER’s and they see both peds and adults, some of our nurses are entirely pediatric, but they’re all currently pediatric trained emergency nurses.”
#3. What constitutes a “trauma,” for those who might not be clear?
Fera: “Say there was a car accident on the freeway…the ambulance would pick them up and take them to the adult ER. We’re capable of handling them, but because they’re the designated trauma ER, they have EMS take them there. If your child was in a car accident, bike accident or had a bad fall, you could bring them here and we would be fully capable of seeing them.”
#4. If a parent and child were both in a bad car accident, where would EMS take them?
Fera: “We don’t want to separate families, so we would keep the child with the parents in the adult ER.”
#5. When should someone come to your pediatric ER as opposed to going to an Urgent Care?
Fera: “If you have a simple fever or are not feeling great, you can go to Urgent Care. If you’re having a hard time breathing, are retracting or your respiratory rate is really fast, you’ll want to come to the ER. Some Urgent Cares will do stitches, but it depends on how complex the cut is. If you have a complex break – something with a lot of angulation – you’ll want to go to the ER. An Urgent Care is a good place to go if you’re not sure if you have a sprain or a break.”
#6. I was just looking at your website, and it quotes a live estimate on the amount of time you can expect to wait if you arrived at the ER right now. When I checked, your wait time was only four minutes. What is your average wait time?
Fera: “Usually our busy time is when the pediatricians’ offices are closed because most of our families in the area will use their pediatrician. So 3 pm to 11 pm is our busiest time. But even then, we’ll get you right back to be seen. It’s very unusual for anyone to wait for a room.”
#7. How does the Sky Ridge Pediatric ER differ from other pediatric ERs?
Fera: “We’re an ER with pediatric and emergency medicine doctors that are all specialized in pediatric medicine. Our nurses have all been trained in pediatric medicine, so they hold certifications in pediatric and advanced cardiac life support. They also have adult advanced life support and pediatric trauma certifications. They have adult trauma certifications. They basically have to have both because the definition of “pediatric” spans infants to age 18. Once you hit that higher end range, the teenager range, you have to have the adult skills.”
Fera: “There is actually a common misperception that we’re a “baby ER,” but we see kids up to age 18. We can see our patients faster and quicker than our adult Level 2 Trauma ER where they get very, very busy. We love seeing kids of all ages over here.”
#9. How is your average pediatric patient different from an adult patient?
Fera: “I’ve done Emergency Medicine for twenty-five years, and I can tell you that the nice thing about pediatrics is they get better so much faster. They might not come in happy, but you see a big change by the time they leave. We also give out free Sky Ridge teddy bears…so that might help.”
#10. You’re originally from Calgary, yes?
Fera: “I am, and Calgary feels a lot like Denver… they are actually “Sister Cities,” so they have the same industry and the same layout. I have always loved being outside and I love to run. Bluffs Regional Park has a bunch of great trails, and sometimes I’ll just grab one of the nurses and we’ll go for a walk around RidgeGate.”