Required Screening and Testing for Professional Truck Drivers

This is the third post in a three post series to promote the health of people with sleep apnea.

One of the top causes of car accidents is due to fatigue. It is estimated that 56,000 accidents a year are caused be fatigued drivers. (1) People with undiagnosed or untreated sleep apnea are at increased risk of falling asleep at the wheel. (2) Approximately 17 to 28% of commercial truck drivers in the U.S. are estimated to have mild to severe sleep apnea. (3) This amounts to 2.4 to 3.9 million truck drivers that may or may not diagnosed or treated for sleep apnea. Studies have found that truck drivers with sleep apnea that is untreated are at two to 11 times the risk of being involved in automobile crashes.

sleepy trucker

In October of last year, President Obama signed into law, Public law number 113-45. This included mandatory screening of commercial truck drivers, testing for sleeping disorders, including sleep apnea, in those at risk, and treatment for those diagnosed. (4) Bill Graves, CEO of the American Trucking Association in 2013 stated, “There are more than 3 million professional truck drivers and the cost of screening, diagnosis and treatment for sleep apnea could easily exceed $1 billion annually.” (4) Although it may be costly to the commercial trucking industry to screen their drivers, only those who meet certain risk factors are required to undergo a sleep study to determine if they do have sleep apnea. It is not only beneficial to the drivers, but to the citizens of the U.S. If those estimated 2.4 to 3.9 million drivers (3) with sleep apnea are diagnosed and treated, they will save lives lost due to car accidents.

Works Cited

  1. Sleep disorders as a cause of motor vehicle collisions. Tulio de Mello, M, Narciso, F V and Tufik, S. 3, 2013, Int J Prev Med, Vol. 4, pp. 246-257.
  2. WebMD. Sleep Apnea. [Online] 2014. http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-apnea/sleep-apnea.
  3. Obstructive sleep apnea in North American commercial truck drivers. Kales, S. N and Straubel, M. G. 2014, Industrial Health, Vol. 52, pp. 13-24.
  4. Sousa, K. Law Passes Regarding Sleep Apnea Tests for Truckers. [Online] 2013. http://thecitywire.com/node/20110#.VFObkTTF9v8.

 

Laurie M. DeChello, MPH, CPH

Altra Service Professionals (ASP) does not provide medical advice. If you have questions about your illness or treatment, please contact your doctor.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

What Can Happen when Sleep Apnea is Untreated

This is the second of a three blog post series to promote the health of people who suffer from sleep apnea.  

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder affecting a person’s breathing. The gold-standard in treatment is the use of a CPAP or BPAP machine at night. The previous post in this series covered the reasons why sleep apnea patients do not comply with their doctor’s prescribed treatment. This post will discuss the negative health and daily living effects of not adhering to treatment.

Sleep apnea, when untreated, has been found to be related to many negative outcomes. It can increase the risk of many health conditions. These include high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, irregular heartbeats, diabetes, depression and headaches. (1)  Fatigue is likely and can lead to low energy, low performance at work and driving accidents. (2)

tired driverCar accidents caused by fatigue has become a big concern. It is estimated that 56,000 car accidents a year are caused by lack of sleep. (2) If sleep apnea patients are not using their CPAP/BPAP, it can cause them to fall asleep at the wheel and cause an accident.

It is important for health professionals to help sleep apnea patients find a mask that is comfortable and machine that they can afford. Patients will be more likely to adhere to their treatment, reducing the risk of car accidents and health problems.

 

Works Cited

  1. WebMD. Sleep Apnea. [Online] 2014. http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-apnea/sleep-apnea.
  2. Sleep disorders as a cause of motor vehicle collisions. M, Tulio de Mello, et al. 3, 2013, Int J Prev Med, Vol. 4. PCM3634162.

 

Laurie M. DeChello, MPH, CPH

Altra Service Professionals (ASP) does not provide medical advice. If you have questions about your illness or treatment, please contact your doctor.

 

Posted in Sleep Apnea

Now Serving International Customers

For Immediate Release

September 23, 2014

Altra Service Professionals, Inc., a medical equipment repair company located in Ocala, FL, has announced the addition of international sales and service to its’ offerings. ASP partnered with Bongo International to provide customers from outside of the U.S. with a cost effective shipping solution to receive items purchased from U.S. companies. “We are very excited to enter the international market”, says Bob DeChello, President & Co-Owner of Altra Service Professionals. “We have stayed away from non-U.S. business due to the cost and complexity of international shipping. Bongo eliminates those challenges by offering international customers a U.S. mailbox and completes the exporting aspect of the shipping. We can focus on our products and services while they focus on the shipping.”

When a customer visits the Altra website for an oxygen concentrator repair, CPAP repair, or refurbished oxygen concentrator purchase, they will see a link at the bottom of the webpage for International Customers. Follow the instructions to create a Bongo account and enter the address provided by Bongo when facilitating your repair or purchase. Altra will ship the item to your U.S. mailbox. The customer will facilitate the final delivery to their international destination with Bongo International.

Note: ASP sells medical equipment requiring 120v 60Hz only. We service machines ranging in voltage from 110v to 240v.

About Bongo International:

International Shipping Now Available!

Bongo International provides our customers with their very own US address. Once you have a US address, you will be able to make purchases with us as well as other US based online retailers. Bongo receives your purchases and logs them into their online system which you can use to view your items and consolidate them with multiple orders.International customers can save up to 82% off typical international shipping rates by following these four easy steps:

Register with Bongo and receive a U.S. shipping address.
Enter the Bongo address as both your billing and shipping address.
Use the credit card that you have on file with Bongo as the payment method.
Once the order arrives at Bongo, log into your account to forward to your country.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Bongo through e-mail. They will be glad to assist you.

Click on the Bongo logo in the corner to get started!

 

Posted in Company News

Noncompliance for CPAP/BPAP Use in Sleep Apnea Patients

This is the first of a three blog post series to promote the health of people who suffer from sleep apnea. This first post will discuss the issue of patients’ adherence to sleep apnea therapy. The second in the series will focus on what can happen if sleep apnea patients do not adhere to prescribed therapy. The final post in this series will concentrate on awareness for truck drivers to be tested for sleep apnea.

Sleep disorders can affect everyday life for people with the disorders and those around them. Sleep apnea, in particular, can have devastating health effects. Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) or Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure (BPAP) machines are the recommended treatment for patients with moderate to severe sleep apnea. However, studies have found that patients do not always use their CPAP/BPAP machines. (1) By not following their doctor’s treatment plan, they put themselves at risk for additional health problems.

CPAP/BPAP therapy is considered the gold standard prescribed treatment for sleep apnea. This means it has been shown to be helpful by rigorous scientific studies. One study showed that patients refused to use these machines because of the cost of the machines or not being comfortable wearing the masks. (1)

CPAP_machine_image

CPAP machines open the airway to restore the flow of air while sleep apnea patients sleep.

The cost of a CPAP/BPAP machine is the number one reason why patients do not adhere to this type of therapy. (1) The President of Altra Service Professionals, Bob DeChello, stated that insurance is the first course of reimbursement. (2) Some insurance companies will not reimburse until the compliance data from the machine shows that the patient has been using it per the prescription. When insurance pays for part of the machine, the patient is also paying for services via the home care company, such as a respiratory therapist’s assistance. This is helpful for patients who are new to CPAP therapy, but may not be necessary for patients just needing a new machine.

If insurance still leaves the patient with a high copay or the patient does not have insurance, calling around to various companies selling CPAP/BPAP machines is the next step. Companies are only allowed to publish the manufacturer’s lowest advertised price, but can offer a lower price in a personal discussion. Also, if insurance is not used, look for models that do not have unnecessary, and costly features. An example would be the ability to download the compliance data. (2)

An uncomfortable mask was found to be the second highest reason why patients do not comply to their prescribed therapy. (1) If a mask does not feel comfortable, there are different masks to try. A nasal mask covers the nose only and has a chin strap to keep it on. A full face mask covers the nose and mouth. A nasal pillow actually goes inside the nose with a tube going over the top of the head. If the patient does not like the mask provided, the home care company is reimbursed by the manufacture for the full cost of the mask via the manufacturer’s guarantee, even if the patient tries a different manufacturer’s mask. So, it will not cost the vendor anything to provide the patient with a different mask. (2)

Those that develop habits easily are more likely to adhere to CPAP treatment. If a patient uses their machine as part of a nightly routine for the first month of use, they are more likely to adhere to their treatment in the long term. (2) Encouragement by the staff at the patient’s prescribing doctor office during the first month of treatment would be helpful in creating the habit of machine use. (3)

Once a patient is using their CPAP/BPAP machine as prescribed, keeping the machine working properly will help the patient save money in repairs and feeling their best. See an earlier blog post on maintenance of CPAP/BPAP machines.

Works Cited

1. CPAP adherance of patients with obstructive sleep apnea. Salepici, B, Caglayan, B and Kiral, N. 9, 2013, Respir Care, Vol. 58, pp. 1467-73.

2. DeChello, B. President and CEO of Altra Service Professionals. Ocala, FL, July 3, 2014.

3. Validation of the CPAP Habit Index-5.A Tool to understand adherance to CPAP treatment in patients with obstructive sleep apnea. Brostrom, A, Nilsen, P and Gardner, B. 10, 2014, Sleep Dis, Vol. 2014, p. 929057.

4. Motivational interviewing (MINT) improves continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) acceptance and adherence: a randomized controlled trial. Olsen, S, et al. 2014, Vol. 80, pp. 151-163.

5. Sleep disorders as a cause of motor vehicle collisions. Tulio de Mello, M, Narciso, F V and Tufik, S. 3, 2013, Int J Prev Med, Vol. 4, pp. 246-257.

6. WebMD. Sleep Apnea. [Online] 2012. http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-apnea/sleep-apnea.

 

Laurie M. DeChello, MPH, CPH

Altra Service Professionals (ASP) does not provide medical advice. If you have questions about your illness or treatment, please contact your doctor.

 

Posted in Sleep Apnea

We’ve Moved…Again!

Who’s bright idea was it to move our repair center, located in Ocala, Florida, in the middle of summer? I guess that was me! After several long days of exhausting work, we are almost done. We moved last year at this time. I’m pretty sure I said we wouldn’t move again for a long time, especially in the summer, but…

Over this past year, our business has grown. We are proud to help the Ocala community by adding 2 new employee positions. It’s amazing how quickly we filled up our “extra” warehouse space. Although moving an office and warehouse is physically, mentally, and financially draining, it was necessary in order to continue to provide our customers the best possible service experience.

Our new contact information is as follows:

Altra Service Professionals, Inc.

815-A NW 25th Ave

Ocala, FL  34475

(Yes – we moved across the street)

 

We had to postpone repairs for a few days in order to safely complete our move, so please accept my apology for any delay in the repair and return of your equipment. I know how important it is for you to have your machine and we will do our best to “catch up” this week.

I want to give a heart felt “thank you” to all of our customers, commercial and end users, for trusting us with your medical equipment repairs. We very much appreciate the opportunity to serve you! As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

 

Warm Regards,

Bob

 

Posted in Company News

What Increases Risk of Chronic Bronchitis in COPD?

Research studies have found that having chronic bronchitis (CB) can increase the chance of death.  (1) People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are more likely to become ill with CB, making it even more difficult to breathe. (2) (3) CB has been found in many research studies to worsen the symptoms of COPD quicker than in COPD patients without CB. (4) (5) (6)  A recent study was published in the journal Respiratory Research. It looked at 2703 patients with COPD. About 660 of them had CB and 2040 did not. This study asked them questions about their habits and medical history. (2) They looked to find the risk factors of CB in patients with COPD. Risk factors are behaviors or medical history that make a disease more likely to happen.

man-coughing-in-red-shirt

There were many risk factors for becoming ill with chronic bronchitis (CB) in patients with COPD. The biggest risk factor for CB was smoking while already diagnosed with COPD. (4) This risk has nothing to do with, or independent of, the severity of COPD. However, smoking was not the only risk factor of CB. Other risks include gastric reflux, allergies causing nose and eye symptoms, “a history of asthma and acute bronchitis,” breathing in dust and other particles in the air at work, and having to receive emergency medical treatment in the past year due to COPD symptoms. (4)

Some of the risk factors can be changed. These are known as behavioral risk factors. Although it may be difficult, patients may prevent becoming ill with chronic bronchitis (CB) if they stop smoking. This can help prevent other diseases as well, like lung cancer and emphysema. Wearing protective masks in areas where breathing in dust and other airborne particles can also help prevent CB.

Some of the risk factors for CB cannot be prevented by changing a behavior so that those risk factors no longer exist. However, perhaps successful treatment of them can help lower the patient’s risk. For example, a patient with gastric reflux can reduce their symptoms by eating foods that do not make gastric reflux worse and medications to treat reflux. Medication to treat allergies and asthma can help to prevent symptoms of those illnesses, which can lower the risk of CB.

Changing certain behaviors or habits can help prevent chronic bronchitis in COPD patients. For risk factors that have medicines to treat symptoms, these risks can be lowered as well. For any COPD patients with any of these discussed risk factors for CB, extra caution should be practiced when the patients have a chronic cough, seeing their doctors for possible treatment.

Works Cited

1. Thirty-year cumulative incidence of chronic bronchitis and COPD in relation to 30-year pulmonary function and 40-year mortality; a follow-up in middle-aged rural men. M, Pelkonen, et al. 2006, Chest, Vol. 130, pp. 1129-1137.

2. Time course and recovery of exacerbations in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. TA, Seemungal, et al. 2000, Vol. 161, pp. 1608-1613.

3. Cough and sputum production are associated with frequent exacerbations and hospitalizations in COPD subjects. PR, Burgel, P, Nesme-Meyer and P, Chane. 2009, Chest, Vol. 135, pp. 975-982.

4. The chronic bronchitic phenotype of COPD: an analysis of the COPDGene study. V, Kim, et al. 2011, Chest, Vol. 140, pp. 626-633.

5. Association of chrnic mucus hypersecretion with FEV1 decline and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease morbidity. Copenhagen City Heart Study Group. J, Vestbo, E, Prescott and P, Lange. 1996, Am J Respir Crit Care Med, Vol. 153, pp. 1530-1535.

6. Longitudinal lung function decline in subjects with respiratory symptoms. CB, Sherman, et al. Dis : s.n., 1992, Am Rev Respir, Vol. 146, pp. 855-859.

7. Clinical and computed tomographic predictors of chronic bronchitis in COPD: a cross sectional analysis of the COPD Gene study. V, Kim, et al. 2014, Respiratory Rsearch, Vol. 15, p. 15. Retrieved from http://respiratory-research.com/content/pdf/1465-9921-15-52.pdf

 

 

Laurie M. DeChello, MPH, CPH

Altra Service Professionals (ASP) does not provide medical advice. If you have questions about your illness or treatment, please contact your doctor.

 

Posted in Respiratory Disease

Altra Service Professionals Earns BBB Accreditation

This week, Altra Service Professionals announced its recent accreditation by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Central Florida. As a BBB Accredited Business, Altra Service Professionals is dedicated to promoting trust in the marketplace.

According to BBB reports by Princeton Research, seven in ten consumers say they are more likely to buy from a company designated as a BBB Accredited Business. BBB is a resource for the public, providing objective, unbiased information about businesses.

“We are excited to be a BBB Accredited Business because we value building trust with our customers, ” Bob DeChello, President and CEO of Altra Services Professionals said. “Our BBB Accreditation gives our customers confidence in our commitment to maintaining high ethical standards.”

About Altra Service Professionals (ASP)

ASP works with all sizes of health care providers from smaller one site companies to large national organizations. Their close relationship with Fedex allows us to service any state quickly and cost effectively. Whether it’s selling refurbished equipment, consulting, or performing service and repairs, ASP is the company with the experience and integrity other companies trust to work with.

The goal at ASP is simple: your complete satisfaction. Mr. DeChello stated, “We’re a different kind of repair company; one that puts the customer’s best interests first. We believe that our long term success is dependent on earning and retaining the trust of our customers. We are not trying to maximize a ‘sale’ associated with your equipment repair. We are managing our relationship by recommending appropriate outcomes, even if that means telling the customer the machine is not worth repairing and to decline the repair. We are experts in medical equipment repairs and our customers look to us for guidance in addition to performing the standard repair. We may have lost that sale, but we retained the trust of our customer, thereby being one step closer to achieving our goal of having a long term client through customer satisfaction.”

About BBB

BBB’s mission is to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust. BBB accomplishes this mission by creating a community of trustworthy businesses, like ASP, setting standards for marketplace trust, encouraging and supporting best practices, celebrating marketplace role models and denouncing substandard marketplace behavior.

Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organizations’s high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB is the preeminent resource to turn to for objective, unbiased information on businesses and charities.

Contact BBB servicing Central Florida at 407-786-9008 and Altra Service Professionals at 888-551-5267.

xxx

 

Posted in Company News

Altra Service Professionals Expands Service Area to Alabama

Altra Service Professionals (ASP) announced today the addition of Alabama to their commercial customer service area. “We are very excited to expand into Alabama” said Bob DeChello, President of Altra Service Professionals. “When Tony and I purchased the company back in 2010, we were only servicing Florida. It has been one of our goals to expand into Georgia and Alabama and here we are. We have a great staff that is committed to taking care of our customers and it shows in their work. We are in the position to be able to expand because of their hard work and dedication to Altra and our customers.”

Oxygen Concentrator RepairASP specializes in respiratory medical equipment sales and service, including oxygen concentrator repairs, CPAP repairs, Suction Machine repairs, and used Oxygen Concentrator sales. Their service area isn’t limited to the southest United States as they receive equipment from all over the US. In additional to commercial customers, they also service the general public. “Many people own their medical equipment” says DeChello. “When it breaks, the company that sold it to them just wants to sell another piece of equipment. Most of the time we are able to fix someones machine for less than half the cost to replace it. We do a ton of Respironics CPAP repairs for people that own their machines. We are happy to provide them with options.”

What’s next for Altra Service Professionals? DeChello says “We just want to continue providing honest, excellent service at a competative price for our customers. If we do that, then the rest will follow.”

For more information about Altra Service Professionals,  visit their websites athttp://altraservice.com and http://shop.altraservice.com.

 

Reprinted with permission from PRlog.org via http://www.prlog.org/12248087-altra-service-professionals-expands-service-area-to-alabama.html

Posted in Company News

Use it or Lose it: Flexible Spending Accounts

It is fairly common for people to have flexible spending accounts (FSA). Did you know that if you do not spend the money you have deposited into your FSA, you may lose it? This is your hard earned money and you deserve to benefit from it.

Flexible Spending Accounts

Most plans allow you to purchase over the counter health related supplies such as aspirin and bandages. Did you know you may be able to use your FSA towards the service of your medical equipment such as a cpap repair or oxygen concentrator repair? Whether you need a regularly scheduled annual Preventive Maintenance or an unscheduled repair, your FSA funds may be able to help pay for it. It may also pay for accessories such as oxygen cannula’s and concentrator filters.

If your FSA issued you a debit card with the Visa or Mastercard logo on it, you may be able to use that to pay for your service. If you don’t have a FSA debit card, you may be able to be reimbursed by submitting our receipt.

No matter what you decide to use your FSA funds on, just remember to do so before the end of the year.

Posted in Uncategorized

Hot Weather and Respiratory Diseases

As we get into the summer months, patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and other respiratory diseases are at risk. Added complications of their disease and also possible death are more likely in extreme heat. On the news, we have heard about the increase of deaths during heat waves. But it is not only extreme heat that can cause death in these patients. A study published in Health Education Research (1) found that there was more than the average number of deaths on regular hot summer days compared to the cooler months of the year. Many of these deaths are easily prevented.

hot_weather

Who is at risk?

Any person with a respiratory disease is at risk of having more trouble breathing in hot weather. These diseases include chronic bronchitis and chronic pneumonia (also known as COPD), asthma, and severe respiratory allergies. Lower economic classes are at a higher risk of complications of their disease on hotter days because they are less likely to have access to air-conditioning. These patients may also have an air-conditioner, but have to choose between buying food and running their air-conditioner. (1)

What can be done?

Home health care companies can identify people who are at risk of exposure to the hot weather and call their local health departments. This type of cooperation helps the health departments who don’t have the means to identify everyone at risk. People who do not have air-conditioning in their homes can be brought to senior centers or shopping areas where they can cool off during the day.

When people at risk do not want to leave their home, other means to help them cool off are necessary. Electric fans blowing on the person helps to cool the body. They should also reduce the amount of physical activity and increase the amount of water they drink. Even though they are not moving as much, the body becomes dehydrated easier in the heat. When patients with respiratory disease are dehydrated, it increases their risk of complications.

If you know of someone who does not have access to air-conditioning, you can bring them into your own home. This also applies to our pets. As an owner with a dog with a respiratory condition, I know that keeping him inside as much as possible will help him stay healthy. The less time a person (or pet) with a respiratory disease spends in hot weather, the easier they will breathe.

 

Works Cited

(1) Correlates of hot day air-conditioning use among middle-aged and older adults with chronic heart and lung diseases: the role of health beliefs and cues to action. Richard L., Kosatsky T., Renouf H. (2011). Health Educ Res. 26 (1): 77-88.doi:10.1093/her/cyqo72

Laurie M. DeChello, MPH, CPH

Altra Service Professionals (ASP) does not provide medical advice. If you have questions about your illness or treatment, please contact your doctor.

 

Posted in Blog Posts