November 19, 2004

Sleep center gains accreditation

Featured Image

Sandy McMasters, left, manager of the Vanderbilt Sleep Disorders Laboratory, and Beth Malow, M.D., the laboratory’s director, look at a patient's polysomnograph, which shows sleep patterns.
photo by Dana Johnson

Sleep center gains accreditation

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 and director of the Vanderbilt Sleep Disorders Center.

Malow, who has headed the Sleep Disorders Center since June 2003, has said gaining national accreditation would be 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 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 uses regular hotel rooms, slightly converted to monitor sleeping patterns.

The area encompasses one end of the 5th floor of the Marriott (4,000 square feet), 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 ten beds.

During a site visit for the accreditation, Malow said the 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 — and viewed a successful sleep center as having three “pillars” of excellence: professional, technical, and administrative,” Malow explained.

Malow said it was important for business operations and patient care to meet the high standards set by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine regarding performance of sleep studies and overall operations of the 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 the practice is developing a comprehensive pediatric sleep program.

“We also have a CPAP 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.”