Friday August 16, 2019
Our relatively new sleep (and respiratory) specialist Dr Patryk Szulakowski has revamped the sleep service at Tauranga and Whakatane Hospitals, achieving some great results- hugely shortened waiting lists as well as new staff for the sleep service. This means that now the wait for a sleep study is around 4 weeks, while urgent cases such as truck drivers with high Epworths will get seen within a week or two.
Part of the revamp also means that routine follow up of those patients already on CPAP will be removed, and instead there will be an 0800 number for patients to call if there are any clinical or technical issues - 0800 267 999.
As part of the revamping of the sleep service we are no longer going to be making routine follow up appointments on stable compliant CPAP users and will use our available time to support patients more intensely as they are initiated onto CPAP. Research has shown that this has a very positive effect on long term compliance.
We will of course follow up all NZTA patients needing annual clearance to drive although this will mainly be done remotely via the cloud. The new CPAPs all have capability for cloud monitoring and this is also beneficial to the drivers in that they don't have to take time off work. Patients will be asked to sign a consent form allowing this. If any issues are found they will be offered face to face appointments.
We will continue to follow up NIV (Non-Invasive Ventilation) patients.
Patients will no longer be able to call our Sleep Nurse Specialists or the Clinic Schedulers at either hospital but will be given our 0800 number to use at any time they need to - 0800 267 999. This number is a message service that is cleared by our Health Care Assistant who will herself deal to mask and simple machine problems and pass other messages on to the appropriate person for resolution.
We have developed a protocol that patients need to meet before they are deemed to be suitable for this process that we have called "standby".
The patients will all get a letter explaining that they are still our patients but that they are now on "standby" and that they should contact us whenever they need to. The will be given the 0800 number. The letter to the patient will be copied to their GPs and be on the hospital documentation files.
GPs may be relieved that they do not have to re refer a patient who reports to them that they have not been followed up and that they just need to remind the patient to ring in on 0800 267 999.