RemZzzs on mission possible

‘My hope is to catch people in the early stages of sleep apnea’
Friday, August 24, 2012

JACKSON, Mich. – Bob Rutan’s not a politician, but when it comes to the power of CPAP therapy, he sure sounds like one—and with good reason.

“We want to get people on therapy and keep them on therapy, because we’re at a crisis in our country with health care,” says Rutan, CEO of RemZzzs, a manufacturer of CPAP mask liners that improve compliance by reducing leakage. “If we can get people healthy, we have a better chance at productivity in America. People will be healthier in their lives and their jobs, and they’ll stay out of hospitals.”

Rutan will take this message on the road this fall, when he and his wife, who uses a CPAP device and who was the inspiration for him to develop the mask liners, embark on a nationwide sleep awareness tour in a 42-foot motor coach emblazoned with “Dreams With Hope.”

During stops in more than 30 states, Rutan, in conjunction with local HME providers, sleep labs and hospitals, plans to host free clinics; offer free mask adjustments and trouble-shooting; provide free samples of mask liners; conduct free sleep apnea mini-screenings; and attend related events, such as in-services.

“My hope is to catch people in the early stages of sleep apnea, because when you go for five years or 15 years or 30 years without air at night, eventually, you fall down this course of diabetes and any number of other things,” Rutan said.

But being diagnosed with a sleep disorder isn’t an easy thing to hear and using CPAP therapy isn’t an easy thing to do, something Rutan has experienced not only second-hand through his wife but also, now, first-hand, which gives the tour even more meaning.

“I was recently diagnosed myself,” he said. “I don’t think anyone wants to hear that they have to wear a mask, but now it’s like, ‘OK, I have a problem, let’s deal with it.’”

Providers like Ryan McDevitt believe the tour will go a long way toward breaking down the stereotypes associated with not only sleep therapy but also HME providers and manufacturers.

“We need more manufacturers like Bob to step out and show America what we do and the difference we make,” said McDevitt, general manager at Sleep Solutions Home Medical in Troy, Mich. “We sell product that people don’t necessarily want but that they need, and we work with patients on a one-on-one basis in a service industry. But we’re being looked at as equipment-only. What Bob is doing is the opposite of that.”