November 16, 2004

Vanderbilt Sleep Disorders Center lands national accreditation

Vanderbilt’s Sleep Disorders Center has garnered national accreditation from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM).

Vanderbilt’s Sleep Disorders Center has garnered national accreditation from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM).

It is the first time the program has gained accreditation, a rigorous process that involves a detailed inspection of the center’s facility and staff, including an evaluation of testing procedures, patient contacts and physician training.

“With our development of a multidisciplinary program, expansion and move to the Marriott, we decided it was a worthy goal to pursue,” explained Beth Malow, M.D., associate professor of Neurology, board certified in Neurology, Sleep Medicine and Clinical Neurophysiology and director of the Vanderbilt Sleep Disorders Center.

Malow, who has headed the Sleep Disorders Center since June 2003, placed gaining national accreditation as one of her top priorities.

“We congratulate the Vanderbilt Sleep Disorders Center on fulfilling the high standards required for receiving accreditation,” said Michael J. Sateia, M.D., president of the AASM. “The center is a significant resource to the local medical community and provides academic and scientific value in addition to the highest quality of care for patients suffering from sleep disorders.”

In what was a first for Nashville and Middle Tennessee, Vanderbilt opened the first hotel-based sleep center in the Marriott at Vanderbilt University in August 2003. The state-of-the-art sleep laboratory utilizes regular hotel rooms, slightly converted to monitor sleeping patterns. The 4,000-square-foot area encompasses one end of the 5th floor of the Marriott and has six rooms set aside for sleep studies, with additional rooms for monitoring and program support. The Center recently expanded services to seven nights per week with plans to open additional beds for a total of 10 beds.

During a site visit for the accreditation, Malow said the site inspector was impressed with the hotel setting and with the multidisciplinary nature of the center, which combines the strengths of neurology, pulmonary medicine and pediatrics.

“He was pleased with the support that our administration has given us ó and viewed a successful sleep center as having three “pillars” of excellence: professional, technical and administrative,” Malow explained.

Malow said it is important for business operations and patient care to meet the high standards set by the AASM regarding performance of sleep studies and overall operations of a sleep center.

“This may translate into the ability to be in a stronger position to negotiate contracts for sleep disorders services with third party payors, as ultimately the quality of a sleep center plays into the services provided to patients,” she said.

Over the last year the practice has expanded to include three sleep neurologists (Malow, Muhammad Al-Kaylani, M.D., and Kanika Bagai, M.D.), three sleep pulmonologists (James Sheller, M.D., Lisa Lancaster, M.D., and Paula Watson, M.D.), a pediatric pulmonologist (Mohammad Fazili, M.D.), a pediatric neurologist (Ramon Cuevas, M.D.), and a nurse practitioner (Cindy Culpepper). Consultants from psychiatry, adult and pediatric otolaryngology, and maxillofacial surgery round out the expertise of the sleep program. Approximately 20 percent of sleep studies are performed in children, and Fazili and Cuevas are assisting Malow in developing a comprehensive pediatric sleep program.

“We also have a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) sleep technologist, Elizabeth Biggs, dedicated to helping our patients become successful with CPAP treatment for obstructive sleep apnea, Malow said. “And Sandy McMasters, center manager, along with Paul Schmitz, associate director, are constantly striving to improve our scheduling procedures, customer service and communications with referring physicians. As we continue to grow, we want to remain accessible to the Vanderbilt community for feedback so that we can provide the highest quality of sleep disorders services to our patients.”