Sleep center can rest easy with five-year accreditation

By LaKisha Ladson / Week of Jan. 8-14, 2011

The Sleep and Breathing Disorders Center has earned accreditation for five years by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the only professional society dedicated exclusively to the subspecialty of sleep medicine.

In addition to enabling the center to continue receiving support from Medicare as reimbursement rules become more stringent in January, the accreditation moves the facility closer to re-establishing a sleep medicine fellowship next year, said Dr. Won Lee, medical director of the facility and assistant professor of internal medicine.

“This accreditation validates that UT Southwestern offers exceptional care to our niche of patients with primary sleep disorders in the Dallas-Fort Worth area,” Dr. Lee said.

The Sleep and Breathing Disorders Center at University Hospital - St. Paul opened in 2007 and receives patient referrals from specialties including internal medicine, pulmonary medicine, cardiology, family medicine, otolaryngology, neurology and psychiatry. The center, which expanded from four beds to six in 2010, manages two types of disease – primary sleep disorders and chronic respiratory failure.

The “sleep” part of the center manages problems in adults including obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, periodic limb movement disorders, narcolepsy and circadian rhythm disorders. The “breathing” mission of the center is led by pulmonologist Dr. Joseph Viroslav, a professor of internal medicine with expertise in treating patients with chronic respiratory failure due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), spinal-cord injury, muscular dystrophy and musculosketal disorders.

The Sleep and Breathing Disorders Center is multidisciplinary, with specialists from pulmonary medicine and neurology as well as collaboration with surgical specialists in otolaryngology and oral and maxillofacial surgery.

“We have a capacity for 42 studies a week,” Dr. Lee said. “This translates into patients getting a sleep study sooner and prompt initiation of effective care.”

The AASM required submission of an extensive written application, on-site evaluation of clinical providers and sleep technology equipment, and review of policy, procedures and staff training.

Dr. Lee said the accreditation is a result of quality work by the entire team — daytime clinic and nighttime sleep technology staff, hospital administration, respiratory therapists and clinical care providers. Jean Phillips, manager of the sleep center and of respiratory therapy, said the staff’s training sets the center apart. All clinical staff members are registered respiratory therapists, polysomonographers or both.

“This is something you do not find in most sleep centers,” she said. “The center has worked hard at building its practice to be the best in Dallas-Fort Worth.”