Sleep Lab Expansion Benefits Patients and Research

The Sleep Laboratory at West Park Healthcare Centre in Toronto has a well-established reputation for its specialized sleep studies on people with serious respiratory and cardiovascular disease, particularly those who require nighttime ventilatory support. Respiratory specialists from Toronto and across Ontario have been referring patients to this unique sleep lab for several years.

Now with capacity increased by 100 per cent, thanks to a grant from West Park Healthcare Centre Foundation, the four-bed lab will be able to conduct up to 750 sleep studies annually. The increased capacity will permit West Park to schedule physicians’ routine referrals of patients with suspected primary sleep disorders, including the potentially dangerous obstructive sleep apnea. The expanded sleep lab, which opened in October 2001, also provides specialized services for patients who require extra help and care during the night.

“Our new facilities are luxurious compared to our old ‘temporary’ quarters,” explains lab manager, Lori Davis. “Because of our ability to handle patients with severe disabilities and complex care needs, we are in demand. The waiting list for sleep studies used to be up to six months, but now, with our capacity increased by just two beds, patients are only waiting for about one month.”

The lab has oversized bedrooms decorated in soft colours for a relaxing, home-like environment. The main-floor location, with its ensuite wheelchair accessible bathroom, also has plenty of space for the special equipment and motorized wheelchairs that many patients require.

As an added bonus, the improved capacity of the Sleep Laboratory means that time can be devoted to research activities. A study, funded by the Ontario Respiratory Care Society, will explore air leakage in chronically ventilated patients and the impact on the quality of sleep. The two-year study, now possible because waiting lists have been reduced dramatically, will monitor data on 45 patients.

Because these patients are booked for an annual sleep study as part of their regular treatment follow-up, no additional testing is necessary.

“The patients we will be monitoring all require nighttime ventilation through a nasal mask,” explains Davis, who is one in a team of investigators that includes Dr. Roger Goldstein, West Park respirologist and Professor of Medicine and Physical Therapy at the University of Toronto, and Dina Brooks, a research associate. “During sleep, air from the ventilator often escapes through the patient’s mouth, which can lead to interruptions in sleep and reduces the oxygen level the patient receives.”

“The results of the study will hopefully lead to improvements in our approach to non-invasive (nasal mask) ventilation at night,” adds Davis. “Our goal is to provide the best possible ventilatory support while, at the same time, ensuring patients sleep as well as they possibly can.”

West Park Healthcare Centre is the regional rehabilitation centre for adults living in the western Greater Toronto Area and is an important local provider of complex continuing and long-term care. The centre offers a broad range of inpatient and ambulatory care services in the fields of respiratory, cardiac, musculoskeletal/amputee, neurological and geriatric medicine. The centre is located in the Jane Street and Eglinton Avenue area.