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The Best in Sleep 2014

This year's National Sleep Achievement Award winners top the charts in patient care and professional integrity

For more than a decade we've honored the finest sleep professionals from across the country and, this year, around the world. These sleep professionals have demonstrated ingenuity, patience, and dedication to improving the nights of sleep-deprived patients. Each year, nominees for the National Sleep Achievement Awards have forced the bar higher. The winners of our 12th annual awards deserve recognition for their hard work and exceptional patient care. 

Best Facility:

SkyRidge Medical Center Sleep Disorders Center
2800 Westside Drive NW
Cleveland, Tenn.

Nominated by Cindy Cochran, clinical coordinator

Front row: Walter Holland, RPSGT, R.EEG.T, CSE; Angelyn Lynn, RPSGT, PSGP; Cindy Cochran, RPSGT, RST, PSGP, clinical coordinator, clinical sleep educator; Dr. Ahmad Abrahimbacha, MD, FCCP, DABSM, medical director; Connie Price, RPSGT, RRT. Back row: Dana Moses, RPSGT, RST, PSGP, clinical sleep educator; Russ Archer, RRT, director Cardio Pulmonary Services; Sharon Evans, RPSGT, RST, PSGP. Not pictured: Shane Bowman, RPSGT, RST, PSGP and Craig Hart, RPSGT, PSGP.
Our sleep center performs a variety of testing including: NPSG, CPAP, BILEVEL, AUTO SV, MSLT, MWT, HST, EEG, and Holter Monitors. Also, during the day patients who are non-compliant with CPAP are encouraged to come by our center where we perform pap-nap trials to better educate and find the mask that will help them become more compliant.

With our extensive backgrounds we feel we give more than most labs as we have RRTs to perform vent pt's and changes, Reegts to perform seizure testing, and we have added mandatory EKG modules so we are confident with any cardia arrthymias that may arise during sleep.

Productivity and patient outcomes are improved via our technologists educating the patients concerning their diagnosis and the treatment of their disease, such as sleep apnea. Our staff also calls each patient to go over their prep 3 days prior to their scheduled study, answering any questions that the patients may have.

Our sleep physician Dr. Ahmad Ibrahimbacha has been named among Best of the Best Sleep Physicians two years in a row (2012 and 2013). Our sleep disorder center was listed among the Best of the Best Sleep Facilities for 2013, and we received AASM Accreditation in April of 2012. Patient surveys always complement our staff, comparing us to family, and feeling like they were at home.

We are a small community here in Tennessee, and we have learned that treating out patients like family. We do our best to talk with the patients in layman's terms rather than using medical/technical terms that they will not understand, which makes them appreciate us more. Our sleep physician also goes to the smaller towns in the surrounding area to hold clinic, as most of our patients are of a low income and cannot afford the trip to our city.

We try to keep our staff as happy as possible with competitive wages and an excellent benefit package. We realize they are working night shift and it is our responsibility to help them maintain as "normal" a lifestyle as possible and work with a schedule that works best for them.

"I have worked in multiple states and many sleep centers, and I am most proud of the hard work and commitment shown by our dedicated staff," said Cindy Cochran, clinical coordinator, RPSGT, RST, PSGP, who nominated her facility. "The staff could easily go down the road and make a lot more money, but we are like a family here...we have staff who drives long distances because they do not want to work anywhere else but here! This staff has stood the test of time with all the new changes in sleep/insurance and HST taking a lot of night tech jobs, yet they have remained faithful to this lab."

Best Practitioner:

Muhammad Sagheer Ahmad, RPSGT, RST, clinical executive
Electromed Corporation
2nd Floor Rabeel Chamber, Karachi, Pakistan

I started working as a sleep technologist in South City Hospital, where sleep testing was conducted with conventional equipment that did not meet the guidelines of AASM; CPAP/BPAP titration was performed with a mask over the nasal cannula, and no sleep study scoring was available. I made efforts to convince the owner to establish a proper sleep lab among all the facilities, and after two months of discussion, my efforts were a success - Alice 6 Sleep system was installed. During my stay in this hospital I provided high quality services to the patients with sleep disorders, and now this lab is considered the best equipped sleep lab in the city. Currently I am working for Electromed Corporation dealing in Intensive Care, Sleep and Respiratory Care equipment and services for the patients. I introduced Type 2 Home Sleep Testing for the first time in the country from this platform.

I am very eager to spread awareness regarding sleep disorder in the country, and for this purpose I am working with my subordinates to plan sleep schools, symposiums and seminars to educate the clinicians and patients. I work as a team player with all my colleagues to get the work done in the best possible manner. I train them on the techniques, provide them training for CPAP/BPAP compliance and leading the compliance team.

I follow the work ethics as a healthcare professional to meet and treat every patient with the highest quality care. To improve productivity I personally meet the clinicians in their office to introduce them to the available technology for their patients with sleep disorders; I also give lectures in seminars and symposiums and provide hands-on training to new technicians working in sleep.

I have the privilege of becoming the first RPSGT from Pakistan. I have won an honorable mention in the 2011 National Sleep Achievement Award. I have also written an article "Asthma Care in Pakistan" for ADVANCE for Respiratory Care & Sleep Medicine. I won a scholarship from Network of Asia Pacific Sleep Technologists for attending the NAPST meeting in Kuala Lumpur in 2011. I am the only Pakistani in the history of sleep medicine who represented his country on an international sleep forum.

Being a responsible sleep technologist representing the highest level of qualification in sleep technology, I always follow the AASM guidelines and utilize my experience in sleep to provide the Gold Standard of care for each and every patient to bring positive change in every patient's life. I am well aware of latest developments in the field of sleep medicine, which not only encourage me to utilize the technology appropriately but also enhance my knowledge and expertise in my profession, which enables me to provide Gold Standard care with the best available resources.

We recruit enthusiastic and passionate people with acceptable qualification in science to work with us. I feel without passion and love for the patient one cannot deliver high quality care. I feel every patient with any sleep problem must be treated with care and concern. Our staff is very committed to deliver the best possible care to every patient; they regularly attend training sessions for their personal and professional growth.

I started my career in healthcare as a on-the-job trainee respiratory therapist after my bachelor's degree; it was a wonderful time to learn new skills in this specific area, and I spent more than a year completing my postgraduate diploma in respiratory therapy. I joined Doctors Hospital & Medical, Lahore, and started working as a respiratory therapist; after 10 months I came to know that our hospital was going to establish the first sleep lab of the city, and I would have the opportunity to learn from foreign qualified professionals. My second training started in November 2008 as a sleep technician. I learned polysomnography from Lalaine Gedal, presently one of the executives of Sleep Asia, and Terence Lui, RPSGT. Working in sleep was a wonderful experience, and I decided to make it my career by taking formal education. I studied AASM online through self-study modules, and in 2010 I sat for the BRPT CPSGT examination in the very first testing windows they offered at that time and successfully passed. I continued studying the required modules and gaining the necessary experience and finally on January 21, 2011 I sat for the RPSGT examination, becoming the first RPSGT from my country. My enthusiasm and passion stimulated me to achieve my target at every step. I recently attended NAPST annual meeting in Kuala Lumpur, and I was privileged to represent my country on an international level, again becoming the first Pakistani to represent his country in an international conference in sleep science.

Best Manager:

David Orloff, RRT, RPSGT, director
Sleep for Life Center and Physician Practice
Somerset Medical Center
331 Route 206 North
Hillsborough, N.J.

Nominated by: Robert McCaffrey, respiratory therapist

Dave is always thinking "Outside the Box" in terms of both growing the business and reaching the public on education. One example is a program that he ran in conjunction with our EMS department, which educated first responders on the effects of fatigue, patient care and driving. We offered a number of education sessions along with an obstacle course through which we had participants drive a golf cart while wearing fatal vision goggles to simulate motor skill response as if the driver was awake for 18 hours in length. The driver had a passenger in the cart (with no goggles on) and had to drive approx. 100 feet, turn around a traffic cone with an egg on the top and the goal was not to hit the cone. It was a great event and we all learned and had fun at the same time. We work with a number of senior groups in the area to promote education of sleep disorders and PAP compliance, and in 2014 are working with the nutrition department at Somerset Medical Center to create a weight loss program for sleep patients.

Our teams are all cross-trained to cover one another when necessary (includes both day and night staff); in particular, in 2013, we changed over to an EHR system and underwent a sleep system computer upgrade, so we were all wearing different hats. Dave was available around the clock to troubleshoot and be a resource if any issues came about. Our philosophy is that we all succeed or fail together, which is evident every day in the office.

Education is key, and we now involve our patients in their care. This, along with one-on-one respiratory therapist coaching, is keeping our PAP compliance above 90%. He is also a lean-six sigma green belt, so efficient operations are a primary focus.

Dave works with the state Medical Reserve Corps where he was a "Leader in Action" assisting with both Hurricane Irene and Sandy shelter operations. He has also held positions on both the state society for respiratory care and state society for sleep technologists.

Having been involved with both the state boards of respiratory care and sleep technology, Dave is able to bring back current changes to national policies/procedures to our facility. When we do initiate a new program, we are constantly monitoring the changes for both positive and negative effects of the implementation and adjust as we see necessary. Staff input is greatly relied on for success of the change.

We have incredible staff retention due to the level of engagement of the staff in our operations. Dave involves staff in marketing, education programs, and relies on staff input when implementing new policies or programs. We are also looking to bring students in sometime in the fall of 2014.

Dave is a great person to work with; he shares his thoughts with everyone, being totally transparent.

A special thanks to this year's judge, Bill Taylor, BA, RPSGT, RST, who has been involved with sleep technology since 1992.  He is currently the manager of Mercy St. Anne Sleep Center and Program Lead for the PSG Technology program at Mercy College of Ohio.  

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