BILLINGS - On Wednesday, March 11, KTVQ is teaming up with Cat Country 102.9 for the 6th annual Call for Kids.
We're hosting a mediathon that will benefit Saint Vincent Healthcare, and its pediatric intensive care unit.
The unit serves the hospital's youngest patients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
For the Morton-Yates family of Billings, they learned the importance of having specialized care close to home.
It happened in January of this year, when their newest family member, Tiber, had to be rushed to the hospital when he was just two weeks old.
"I noticed that he was sleeping a lot, and he wasn't eating, and he was breathing funny. The doctor called it retractions, so that's where their chest caves in when they're breathing, and you can see their ribs through their skin while they're trying to breathe. And I didn't want to believe it. I couldn't. And so, I waited until my husband got home, and he got home and said we had to go in," said Julie Morton-Yates, Tiber’s mother.
When they arrived at the St. Vincent Healthcare emergency room, staff recognized the urgency right away.
"The nurse there saw that there was an infant in the hospital at 10 o'clock at night and that can't ever be a good sign. So, she stopped, checked him out, and by that time, his fingers and lips were blue, and his breathing was worse," Morton-Yates said.
The family recently went through a round of colds, but that meant something else for little Tiber.
He was diagnosed with RSV, a serious respiratory infection when it comes to babies.
"It stands for respiratory syncytial virus. Often times it can just be a stuffy nose, difficulties breathing, and then it can progress in severity to really difficult breathing that needs to be seen right away, pauses in breathing, to where we have to help breathe for them, and much more serious events that can happen as well,” said Tiffinie Thares, a respiratory therapist at St. Vincent Healthcare.
"I had heard of it, but it was like that big, bad disease that you're never going to get. And I didn't know that it was a common cold for adults. So they had to explain what it means for a two-week-old to me, which was not good, and that he could have died if we hadn't brought him in."
A diagnosis that severe didn't mean a quick visit to the hospital.
The staff spent nine days monitoring Tiber around the clock, restoring his breathing and oxygen levels.
What would seemingly be a frantic time, it was the staff that let Morton-Yates know, everything was going to be alright.
“They were willing to talk us through each thing that they were going to do before they did it. And I held him the whole time. They never took him away from me, which...was great," she said.
Equipped with a pediatric unit, and the only pediatric intensive care unit in eastern Montana and Wyoming, St. Vincent Healthcare helped more than 440 kids with illnesses and injuries in 2019. The PICU had 90 discharges last year, and the pediatric unit discharged 352 patients.
“As a parent, there's such relief knowing that these services are available right here in our community without having to travel. I know for me personally, that gives me so much peace of mind knowing that if my child were sick, they would receive the best care possible," Thares said.
"This hospital is fantastic. Like, 100% would come here over and over again if it happened again," Morton-Yates added.
Present day, Tiber is doing well, providing his family with plenty of smiles, while in good health.
“He's fantastic. He's the smiliest baby that we have had. Our first one liked to smile, but he's great," Morton-Yates said.
If you would like to play a part in making sure patients like Tiber receive quality care close to home, you can make the Call for Kids on Wednesday, March 11 by calling (406)869-3669, or visit SVHKids.org .