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Grant will increase access to CPAP therapy

Grant will increase access to CPAP therapy

Vivian AsareNEW HAVEN, Conn. – People in marginalized and underserved communities are at higher risk of sleep apnea, but they don’t always have access to CPAP therapy, putting them at greater risk of adverse outcomes, says Dr. Vivian Asare, associate medical director of the Yale Centers for Sleep Medicine. 

Asare was recently awarded the American Academy of Sleep Medicine Foundation Community Sleep Health Grant to provide funding for the Yale Compassionate CPAP Service, which she established to help these patients. 

“There was a population of patients where I would diagnose sleep apnea, order the CPAP and talk to them about CPAP,” she said. “I’d get messages back, ‘Oh, this patient is unable to afford the machine and didn’t move forward, or this person doesn’t have insurance.’ Not everyone has that luxury and there (were no resources) that were established.” 

The AASM grant funding will provide uninsured and underinsured patients with equipment and assistance to offset the costs of sleep apnea therapy over the next 12 months. 

Asare compiled a list of charitable organizations that either donate refurbished CPAP machines or have some supplies available for patients at no cost. Some patients, however, were uncomfortable with refurbished machines and once the pandemic hit, some of those channels dried up. DME providers, many of whom have indigent assistance programs, helped fill the need – for a while, says Asare. 

“Once the Philips recall hit, they couldn’t continue with those programs,” she said. “When they put that on hold, we were left with really nothing.” 

Untreated sleep apnea is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, strokes, diabetes and other co-morbidities, so trying to level the field when it comes to health disparities is even more important, says Asare. She has seen firsthand how access to CPAP therapy and supplies has benefited her patients. 

“A lot of these patients would not have any other options,” she said. “They come back (for their follow-up visit) and say, ‘My daytime sleepiness or blood pressure has improved.’ There’s been a huge impact because I was able to provide a CPAP.”


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