Sleep lab to evaluate disorders County hospital to open new unit

September 06, 1992|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff Writer

County residents who never get a good night's sleep will soon be able to have their sleep disorders evaluated at Carroll County General Hospital.

The hospital plans to open a sleep laboratory that will test patients for sleep apnea, a common disorder in which the airway is blocked and the sleeper stops breathing for brief periods. The lab also will evaluate neurological problems that interfere with sleep.

The planned laboratory is the brainchild of Dr. Natvarlal Rajpara, an allergist and respiratory specialist who is chief of the hospital's critical care unit.

He has been taking courses on diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders.

"It's so we don't have to send them to Baltimore," Dr. Rajpara said.

Several area hospitals, including Greater Baltimore Medical Center and Howard County General, already have sleep centers. Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore has separate laboratories for children and adults.

The pediatric sleep center at Hopkins, which can serve three patients a night, has a one-month waiting list, said Dr. Carole Marcus, the center's medical director.

The adult center can accommodate five patients a night. Norman Schubert, the program coordinator, estimated that the center serves about 1,000 patients a year.

Carroll County General's sleep laboratory will be on a much smaller scale -- a single room to be converted for dual use that will accommodate one patient a night. In the daytime, the room will continue to be used for neurological tests, said John M. Sernulka, CCGH's executive vice president.

Hospital officials project usage at an average of one patient a week during the first year.

Mr. Sernulka said the cost of renovations probably will be less than $1,000, primarily for wiring. The room already is a quiet environment for brain wave studies, he said, "so we already have the facilities that would accommodate very nicely a patient undergoing a sleep apnea study."

Equipment costs can range from $10,000 for a basic monitor to more than $100,000 for a machine that can provide electronic data interpretation on two patients at a time.

Carroll County General officials haven't yet made a decision on the equipment, but "we're pretty much determined to get a higher level monitor," said Douglass Bumstead, a registered respiratory therapist and director of the hospital's respiratory care program. He said the hospital may lease a machine initially.

Sleep labs typically monitor brain waves on four to six channels, heart and breathing rates, the amount of oxygen in the blood, chest wall movement, air flow through the nostrils, body position and leg movement.

"A lot of spouses complain about being kicked to death at night," Mr. Bumstead said.

Leg movement and heavy snoring are indicators of sleep apnea, he said.

The cost of a night in the sleep center hasn't been determined. The Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission will set the fee after evaluating Carroll County General's proposed services, said John Colmers, commission executive director.

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