While many of us look forward to an extra hour of sleep when the clocks “fall back” this weekend, others will struggle to get any sleep at all.
Shah Rukh and Chris Hilliam know this all too well. The polysomnographic technologists (aka: sleep lab techs) have spent many a night – all night – monitoring UBC Hospital (UBCH) Sleep Disorders patients during sleep studies. They’ve witnessed patient struggles and victories.
“I’ve seen patients go from being unhappy, irritated and sleep-deprived to feeling optimistic, motivated and engaged with life one month later,” says Shah. “We see it; their spouses see it. It’s profoundly rewarding.”
This winter, construction on a new Sleep Disorders Clinic & Lab on the UBCH campus will begin. Funded by our VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation
, the new space will combine beauty and function to benefit more patients and all who work there.
Aside from minor upgrades, the Sleep Disorders Program has been operating in essentially the same space for many years – actually, two spaces. The clinic and lab are currently separated by three floors in Koerner Pavilion.
After months of collaboration involving staff and patient input, the design is complete for a united clinic and lab space on the ground floor of Purdy Pavilion. “Co-location is really important to us,” says Dr. Maureen Ceresney, program co-director. “It will allow for more collaboration and knowledge-sharing.”
Exam rooms will convert to comfortable sleep rooms using finishes, fabrics and colours designed to create a serene environment.
Chris agrees. “We’re positioning ourselves for more and even better communication between the ‘techs’ and physicians, which will benefit patient care and safety,” says the lab’s chief polysomnographic technologist.
The new space will also have three side-by-side tech stations, whereas today there are only two and they’re physically isolated from each other. That can make for a very long night, says Shah.
“Working together means techs can better support each other and the patients they’re monitoring through the night.”
More than a consolidation, the program will grow from six to nine beds. Exam rooms will have a dual purpose and convert to comfortable sleep rooms with the privacy and upgraded soundproofing and ventilation to support sleep studies.
“The space is very innovatively designed and has the ability to shift from a hospital clinic during the day to a warm, non-clinical atmosphere as a sleep lab during the night,” says Tracey Taulu, operations director of UBCH.
Custom designed for flexibility and growth, the modern and nature-inspired space will also open new options for service expansion.
“We’re exploring how we can serve more people more efficiently,” says Dr. Ceresney. Group therapies for insomnia patients, Telehealth for out-of-town patients and more day and home sleep studies for shift workers are just some of the solutions in the works.
“It’s really exciting to see it all take shape into what will be a beautiful, serene and more welcoming space for patients. The sky’s the limit as to what we can achieve.”