Blessing Sleep Center feels like home

Monday, February 28, 2005

QUINCY, Ill. - Settling down for a restful night on a hospital bed tangled up in wires and monitors can be difficult for sleep study patients. Blessing Hospital, however, set out to relieve this struggle in January with the opening of its new, expanded sleep center.
Blessing Sleep Center, which opened in January, modeled its testing facility after patients’ homes to make the environment “more condusive to sleep.”

Blessing Hospital’s transition from a sleep lab to a $300,000 sleep center has created a comprehensive one-stop -shop for sleep disorders. The center offers more than six different sleep tests, including overnight pulse oximetry and polysomnograms, patient education and treatment recommendations. Staff at the center will also serve as a liaison between the patient and DME providers when ordering CPAPs and other devices, and DME can be offered on site at the patient’s request, according to the center’s Web site.

The Blessing Sleep Center also offers patients all the comforts of home during their overnight test. The rooms are designed to look like a typical bedroom or hotel room and each has a private bathroom with shower and an adjustable mattress, making the setting much more conducive to sleep, said Jolene Beaber, Blessing Hospital’s director of respiratory services.

“When you come in for a sleep study they hook wires all over you and then say, ‘Now relax and go to sleep.’ For most people it’s like, ’You want me to what?’” said Beaber. “While there’s no way to not have wires all over you, here the patients can get closer to the kind of sleep they have at home by having a regular bed and the ability to adjust the mattress firmness. We are trying to get an accurate picture of what the patient is doing at home, so the more the center is like home, the better.”

The center also bought state-of-the-art equipment, better software and video capabilities, that will further improve the quality of diagnosis, said Beaber.

The growing demand for sleep tests was what initially prompted Blessing to expand its operation. The old two-bed facility performed more than 500 studies a year. The new center added two more beds and hired a second technician to double the amount of tests that could be preformed.

“When a physician would order a sleep test for a patient, the first available slot was usually about eight weeks out,” said Beaber. “It went on like that for a couple of years, and of course that was dissatisfying for patients and for physicians who wanted to get the sleep study done.”

Blessing’s changes are becoming the more and more the norm among sleep labs, which are trying to achieve the home-like feel to ultimately improve test outcomes, said Beaber, adding that the center’s patients are raving about the results.