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Healthcare Quarterly
Harrison's sleep study center expands

Harrison Medical Center Sleep Study RoomsHarrison Medical Center recently expanded and renovated its Sleep Disorders Center, adding more capacity and upgrading equipment. The center has been a partner since spring 2009 with Kitsap Pulmonary & Sleep Medicine, located across the street, where patients are directed for consultations and follow-ups.

The renovation was completed this past September and included the retrofitting of the four original suites with modernized design and equipment. Each suite includes a Sleep Number mattress, luxurious linens, artwork on the walls and flat-screen televisions.

“This looks more like a hotel room than a hospital room,” says Dr. David Corley, MD, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center and one of the five physicians at the center who are board-certified sleep specialists. “We’re trying to duplicate a good night’s sleep.”

The center, which opened in 2001 and was accredited a year later, performs more than 1,300 sleep studies a year. The expansion is a response to demand for the servicesCorley said previously many local residents went to Tacoma or Seattle for a sleep study because the waiting time at Harrison was two to three months.

“Sleep disorders are very common and being more recognizes as linked to other conditions,” Corley says. “It’s becoming more common in the community due to population aging and it’s also associated with increased weight.”

There are more than 80 sleep disorders but sleep apnea is the most commonly diagnosed one. In the majority of cases, a CPAP machine is the recommended treatment. “CPAP has the advantage over other treatments because it’s noninvasive, it’s reversible and it’s the most effective,” says Corley, who recalls that during his days in medical school in the ’80s the top recommended treatment was tying a tennis ball to the back of a person’s T-shirt so the patient wouldn’t sleep on his or her back.

Technology has made available much more effective treatments in the last decade, and it continues to evolve. For example, the CPAPs now can record data during their use by the patients to give physicians information about issues like mask air leaks or the quality of the sleep. The data is stored on a chip in the CPAPs but new technology is emerging that will allow for it to be read remotely, via a wireless connection or dialup through a modem on the patient’s home phone. Harrison hopes to introduce that technology in the future. “It would help the doctor get instant information. We wouldn’t have to wait for the patient to come in to make a decision, says Jay Ellis, the sleep center’s director and the practice administrator at Kitsap Pulmonary & Sleep Medicine.

Patients are prescreened before being referred to the sleep center, to make sure a study would benefit them. Once there, they’re hooked up to a dozen or so wires, each monitoring a different parameter. The suites feature the latest in Philips Respironics sleep diagnostic technology, which provides state of the art monitoring of sleep patterns and recorded symptoms for immediate diagnoses and recommended treatment. “It’s a more extensive monitoring than it occurs even in the intensive care unit of a hospital… because we’re trying to assess the quality of sleep,” Corley says.

A technician monitors each patient, sometimes doing diagnostics in the process and screening the data, which is then given to a physician. The center is open around the clock, seven days a week, which means shift workers can be evaluated during the day, when they normally sleep.

Patients who are prescribed a CPAP visit the KPSM clinic to meet with CPAP educator Susan McInturff, RRT, who fits them with the proper mask and educates them on compliance checks for insurance purposes and machine troubleshooting. Corley says the proper mask, air pressure and other variables impact the patients’ comfort and treatment effectiveness, so the CPAP compliance and education portion is a critical step during the follow-up care.

The KPSM clinic was also expanded earlier this year, with more space being added. The partnership between Harrison and KPSM allows patients of both organization to receive the best diagnostics and long-term follow-up care, Ellis says. He says many patients are referred to them after being hospitalized and they’re able to improve as a result of having a sleep disorder diagnosed and treated.

“That’s important to our partnership with Harrisonwe feel we’re helping patients get better and stay better so they don’t have to come back to the hospital,” he says. “Working together, we ensure patients have comprehensive services.”

 
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