Media Release - 29/10/09
Christchurch Hospital’s new purpose built Sleep Unit is expected to result in shorter waiting times and fewer ward admissions for people with sleep disorders.
The Sleep Disorders Unit moved into its new clinical area on the second Floor of Christchurch Hospital’s Riverside Block in September. The Unit investigates and treats patients with sleep disorders, mainly sleep-related breathing disorders such as Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA). Although the Sleep Unit will be moved when the redevelopment of Christchurch Hospital takes place, the extra capacity for treatment and clinic space is needed as soon as possible.
OSA is a common problem which can cause severe daytime sleepiness and is linked with an increased risk of motor vehicle accidents, workplace injuries and cardiovascular disease. Until recently the Sleep Unit was housed in temporary premises adjacent to ward 25 on the second floor in the hospital’s Riverside Block.
Space constraints significantly limited the number of patients able to be seen, and only basic sleep studies were able to be carried out, says Sleep Specialist Dr Michael Hlavac. Patients requiring more detailed overnight studies had to travel to the Sleep Unit in Wellington.
“For the first time we now have a purpose-built sleep unit which provides a dedicated space for managing patients with sleep disorders. This will enable us to perform full infra-red video-monitored overnight sleep studies in two dedicated beds, in a suitable environment conducive to good sleep.”
“This greatly increases our diagnostic capabilities and allows us to properly manage patients who would previously have missed out on state-of-the-art diagnostic techniques which are standard elsewhere in New Zealand and overseas. The new sleep unit also means that we can initiate treatment much more quickly and accurately for patients, particularly those with complex sleep problems and those from remote areas, who previously would have had to make several trips to the hospital.”
Dr Michael Hlavac says as a result he anticipates a reduction in waiting times and ward admissions for patients referred to the Sleep Unit requiring investigation. There are currently three full time sleep unit staff members, including a sleep physiologist, a clinical nurse specialist and a medical secretary who will now be housed in the same area. The clinical director will also move into the new sleep unit allowing greater contact with staff and patients on a day-to-day basis.
Appointments are currently being made for two new sleep technologists and a Sleep Unit Team Leader who will support the increased diagnostic capability, says Service Manager Sue Teague.