“Today’s high demand for sleep studies is evidenced in the waiting lists established at most accredited sleep centers.” asserts sleep medicine pioneer G. Vernon Pegram, Ph. D. ACP. Pegram, director of the Sleep Disorder Center of Alabama, Birmingham, says “As awareness in the medical community continues to grow, we expect that this [demand] will continue in Alabama and the rest of the country.”
Pegram and Robert Doekel , Jr. MD, medical director of the center, both board-certified sleep medicine specialists, have worked together for more than 30 years. The two have worked not only to expand the services of their facility but also to educate and train other medical professionals throughout Alabama and encourage them to open similar sleep centers. “Once we started helping others provide this service, we found ourselves getting busier, too,” Pegram says.
With plenty of centers for patients to choose from, the Sleep Disorders
Center of Alabama strives to stand apart from the crowd. One such difference is the Center's high commitment to the amount of time the medical staff spends with patients. A physician sees each patient both before and after the sleep study. “This is not required, but we feel that in the long run we avoid communication problems,” Pegram says. With an estimated 70 plus different sleep disorders and each with various causes, communication is critical to accurate diagnosis and treatment.
The Sleep Disorders Center of Alabama enjoys a strong reputation in the state due to Pegram and Doekel, who have been in the sleep field for 45 and 30 years, respectively. “Medical professionals think of us as a provider of sleep medicine rather than just sleep diagnostics,” Pegram says. “We evaluate, diagnose, treat and follow up with every one of our patients to ensure that they continue their treatment plan prescribed by the physician.” In 2005, the Center received its sixth accreditation from the AASM.
With a total of 6 beds, the Center conducts approximately 1000 studies annually, and about 100 new patients are seen each month. Following their sleep studies, patients are again seen at the center at 4 weeks, 6 months, and 1 year post study.
Patients are also encouraged to call, especially if they are having trouble with CPAP or medications.