Mercy completes a seven-year plan to combine sleep clinic and laboratory

by Aric Mitchell ( 610 views 

Mercy officials and community board members gathered Thursday (Aug. 23) for a formal opening of the Mercy Clinic Sleep Medicine.

Mercy Clinic Sleep Medicine has completed its seven-year journey to combine sleep laboratory and clinic functions under one roof. The sleep center hosted a ribbon cutting to commemorate that combination of services from its new address at 5401 Ellsworth Road across from Central Mall on Thursday (Aug. 23).

While the move took nearly a decade to work out, actual construction on the 2,000-square foot addition began this spring and lasted roughly six months, according to Mercy Clinic COO Amy Fore.

“It’s been a long time coming. Poor Dr. (Stephen) Snell and his team have been kind of bounced around a little bit, but it’s so nice to be able to have this beautiful space next to our sleep lab where all of the studies are conducted,” Fore said, telling Talk Business & Politics that “Moving into this space allows us to increase our access to five days a week clinic visits and then, of course, the sleep studies overnight.”

The clinic and laboratory combine to support Snell, nurse practitioner Paula Brosnan, and a staff of about 15 that also includes seven registered polysomnographic technologists and a certified polysomnographic technologist.

“It’s a small practice, but we are able to reach a lot of patients and take care of our primary care base, which comes from our main referral source — our PCPs,” Fore said.

Most of the cases the center deals with include mild to severe forms of sleep apnea. “It’s by far the major thing that we do because there is a high percentage of people who have sleep apnea, especially in our country where we’re well-nourished or over-nourished, you might say,” said Snell.

“But we also see insomnia, narcolepsy, and various sleep issues along the way.”

Snell sees “about 20 patients per day” during the two days per month he’s in the office, while Brosnan “will see about 40-50 patients a week,” he said. “So, we do see a fair number of patients, and we can always see more. The goal is to let us sort of be the liaison and let us get the primary care docs involved since they see the patients more.”

While patients are present, Snell noted, the new setup will allow greater efficiency for both staff and patients.

“Since we have both (services) right here, if someone is having a problem and wants to go over their sleep study, we can open it up, and if I have questions, I can just walk over and ask the staff that did it what’s going on. Or, if there’s a mask issue or I’m concerned about a mask issue or anything like that, I can walk over now and have everybody in the same area as opposed to being half a city apart. It’s much better for the patient as well because we can be a lot more efficient for them.”

Until recently, Snell said, the process moved slower.

“We didn’t have the luxury of showing different masks and such because we didn’t have them in the regular clinic when we were stuck in oncology, pulmonology, and all that.”

Of the costs, Fore said Mercy doesn’t break it down “per business unit,” and multiple calls to the city’s building and safety department for permitting values were not returned.

Mercy Clinic Sleep Medicine operates two additional facilities specific to sleep studies, diagnosis, and treatment. They are located in Ozark and Waldron.