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    Belvoir Hospital Opens Sleep Medicine Clinic



    Courtesy Story

    Fort Belvoir Community Hospital

    After more than a year of planning, budgeting, and forecasting, Fort Belvoir Community Hospital opened a Sleep Medicine Clinic March 1 to diagnose and treat active duty service members with sleep-related ailments.

    The four-bed clinic, located on 6 South in the hospital’s Oaks Pavilion, will work in coordination with the 10-bed Sleep Medicine Clinic at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and provide a convenient location for patients who reside in the Northern Virginia and Southern Maryland parts of the National Capital Region.

    The National Capital Region has long been a leader in collaboration and the sharing of medical resources. Cmdr. Alex Bustamante, Belvoir Hospital’s director of Medicine, said one of the primary goals of enhanced multiservice markets – the joint service and regional approach to military health care – is to ensure patients receive the appropriate care when they need it, where they need it. Providing Sleep Medicine and a Sleep Laboratory at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital for patients’ convenience was a logical next step in the hospital’s evolution, he said.

    “This new clinic service was created in close cooperation with Walter Reed,” Bustamante said. “Through our mutual efforts, we will be able to care for a large patient population here in Northern Virginia that we did not have the capability for in the past.”

    Melissa Mitravich, the officer-in-charge of Belvoir Hospital’s new Sleep Medicine Clinic, said good sleep is an overlooked aspect to health and wellness that many military members often take for granted.

    “Sleep is needed for a [service member] to perform to the best of his or her ability, and that means physically, mentally, and emotionally,” Mitravich said. “If that [service member] is not at his or her best, it could compromise that person’s safety, their teammates’ safety, it could compromise the mission … Sleep is a critical cog in maintaining optimal health.”

    Mitravich, a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves, cited Army Medicine’s Performance Triad – get quality sleep, engage in activity, and improve nutrition – as three keys to better wellness. She said exercise and eating a well-balanced diet are topics seen frequently on flyers or commercials and in various other campaigns. Sleep, though, tends to be ignored or sacrificed, she said.

    It is purely by coincidence, but perhaps serendipitously so, that March 6 through 13 is National Sleep Awareness Week.

    The Sleep Medicine Clinic is a referral service, meaning a patient will need a referral from his or her Primary Care Manager (PCM) to receive a sleep study. And, due to high number of service members needing sleep studies, the clinic is only for active duty personnel at the moment.

    Mitravich acknowledged service members tend to be inherently healthier than civilians, and providing care to eligible civilian beneficiaries may provide more “bang for the buck,” but emphasized the Sleep Medicine Clinic is still limited at only four beds and the primary focus is ensuring the medical readiness of the warfighter.

    “Sleep Medicine shows how much [Belvoir Hospital] has grown since [it] opened [its] doors back in 2011. There’s that natural walk-run phase and there’s no doubt that we are running,” said Mitravich, who most recently served as the medical director of the Fort Belvoir Warrior Transition Unit. “I can foresee the sleep services here expanding in the future, probably sooner than later.”

    Ebony Smith, the health system specialist for the department of Medicine, said she has worked on the project for past 10 months and the clinic’s opening is the culmination of efforts from Facilities, Logistics, Information Management and Information Technology, and Walter Reed’s Sleep Medicine service.

    The sleep laboratory is carved out of existing inpatient rooms in the hospital’s Oaks Pavilion, meaning the hospital did not need to perform a lot of construction or renovation to prepare the space. However, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t work to be done. Notwithstanding the need to procure specialized equipment, like a continuous positive airway pressure machine, commonly called a CPAP machine primarily used by obstructed sleep apnea sufferers, the clinic utilized existing furniture to outfit its area.

    “I am excited that through all the persistence hard work and dedication, that we are finally opening a sleep laboratory at [Fort Belvoir Community Hospital],” Smith said.

    On Feb. 27, the Sleep Medicine Clinic held a “Day in the Life” event to simulate its first patients, test its equipment, ensure its staff members are prepared for real patients, and iron out any kinks that may arise.



    Date Taken: 03.01.2017
    Date Posted: 03.02.2017 12:46
    Story ID: 225455
    Location: FORT BELVOIR, VA, US 

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