ROGERSVILLE – Joe Kozakowski knows what it’s like to suffer from a sleep disorder.
“I couldn’t stay awake during the day, and I couldn’t get to sleep at night,” said Kozakowski, Hawkins County Memorial Hospital’s cardiopulmonary director.
Kozakowski was diagnosed with sleep apnea, brief pauses of breathing throughout the night that result in snoring, gasping for breath and a general lack of rest. His problem has since been corrected, and he is now sleeping comfortably.
“I feel 100 percent better,” he said. “But I had to go see a specialist out of town. Now, the people of Rogersville and the surrounding community won’t have to make that trip.”
That’s because the Hawkins County Memorial Hospital Sleep Center will be open for business Aug. 1, providing diagnostic and therapeutic sleep studies using state-of-the-art technology with qualified, specially trained technicians.
The two-bed center, which will be located in the hospital, will treat all aspects of sleep problems, Kozakowski said.
“We’re not limited to the breathing disorders of sleep,” he said. The center will help people with sleep disorders ranging from insomnia and narcolepsy to restless leg syndrome and gastroesophageal reflux, or nighttime heartburn.
Sleep disorders can cause headaches, high blood pressure, depression and excessive drowsiness.
“You don’t realize how taxing a sleeping problem can be until you’ve experienced it,” Kozakowski said. “It’s no fun, believe me.”
That’s why HCMH wants to ensure a patient’s stay in the sleep center is a comfortable one, Kozakowski said.
“Our No. 1 goal is to make the overall experience a good thing for the patient,” he said. “All of the necessary paperwork and registering will be done beforehand, so the patient won’t have to wait around. The rooms themselves will be done in a home-like atmosphere – it will be more like a hotel room than a hospital room.”
And patients will have the added convenience of a sleep center in their own community, said WHCMH President Greg Neal.
“If I’m not sleeping well, the last thing I want to do is make an hour-long drive or ask a family member to make the drive for me,” Neal said. “This state-of-the-art sleep center is part of Wellmont’s continuing effort to provide total, comprehensive health care to Rogersville and the surrounding area.”