Hassinger works full-time at the center with the part-time help of Dr. Alberto Monegro, an internist. Each has the training to conduct detailed children’s sleep and health histories at UBMD clinics at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and in Amherst.
In many cases, they can solve problems by creating a sleep plan and educating families about better sleep hygiene. If not, they also help oversee the UBMD Pediatrics’ sleep medicine lab on the second floor of Oishei Children’s. The lab opened last summer with two beds in the recovery wing of the hospital and now has four.
Certified sleep technologists employed by WNY’s Sleep & Wellness Centers help run the lab.
“They need to be much more flexible and adaptive,” Hassinger said. “It can be frustrating for a person to try to set up 45 different monitors and probes. You have to be patient and resilient, and very good with children so that the child is not scared or intimidated by the environment.”
The lab provides overnight accommodations for parents and uses equipment that can be adapted to each child. It is also intended to treat children on mechanical ventilation or who use feeding pumps or have complex medical conditions – including autism, Down syndrome and kidney disease – where sleep problems are common.
Younger children may have trouble sleeping because their tonsils and adenoids slightly narrow the airways as they grow, causing brief bouts of apnea until an adjustment in body position facilitates breathing.