The Charles George VA Medical Center in Asheville, NC, celebrated the opening of its new sleep clinic today with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and press event. The four-bed clinic will help meet the “increasing need” of veterans for sleep medicine, says Cynthia Breyfogle, director of the medical center.

“We typically make business decisions simply as any other private hospital,” Breyfogle said via phone interview. “We look at the business plan. Does it make sense in terms of quality of care and the need of patients and economically, is it a sound decision? And on opening the sleep disorder center we felt the answer was ‘yes’ to all those questions.”

Previously, she says, doctors at the medical center were referring patients with sleep concerns to other providers in the community, who had trouble keeping up with the volume. Plus, that arrangement was less than ideal for patients who prefer to see doctors with experience treating members of the military.

The medical center treats about 48,000 patients, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times.

“Here at the VA we understand the military experience and what the veterans have been subjected to during the military experience. That gives us an advantage,” says Breyfogle.

Muhammad Sayed, MD, chief of sleep medicine at the medical center, says the sleep study rooms were designed to be as comfortable and state of the art as possible.

“We built it to be like a 4 or 5 star hotel room,” he says. Unlike a hotel room, however, the patient will be in a hospital setting, making it easy for them to receive urgent medical care should they need it during their night at the clinic. Also, the patient’s medical records and history will be easily available to the doctor treating them for sleep conditions, Sayed explains. The clinic enfolds pre-existing services like CPAP monitoring and plans to add a home sleep testing program soon.

“This was a really happy experience for everyone who was part of this project,” he says.

Sayed is expecting to conduct the first sleep study there this week.

Rose Rimler is associate editor of Sleep Review.