SVMC Physician Becomes Certified in Sleep Medicine

BENNINGTON, Vt. — People in the Bennington area who are struggling to get enough sleep can now turn to local physician who is certified in sleep medicine. The American Board of Internal Medicine recently certified Dr. Michael Algus in sleep medicine. Dr. Algus is a Bennington pulmonologist and expert in sleep medicine who is already certified in internal medicine and is the medical director of the Sleep Laboratory at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC).

"I have had a long interest in sleep disorders," Algus explained. "They are an under-diagnosed problem that plagues our society. Becoming board-certified in sleep medicine helps me draw attention to this need in our community. It also helps me demonstrate that patients can find effective diagnosis and treatment for sleep disorders here in Bennington."

More than one-third of adults in the U.S. are affected by sleep problems, including trouble falling asleep and daytime sleepiness. Not only are sleep problems a significant cause of illness and injury for anyone affected, but they also have an enormous cost to society from automobile and industrial accidents, lost work time, and reduced productivity.

There are at least 100 different disorders associated with sleep, including sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, and narcolepsy. Sometimes sleep problems are caused by stress or depression; other problems have a more direct physical cause. Regardless, the diagnosis for sleep disorders typically beings with a simple screening. If the screening indicates a person is likely to be suffering from a sleep, the next step is sleep study.

A sleep study involves an overnight stay in a sleep lab. A person’s sleep in monitored by sophisticated equipment that measures brain activity, eye movement, breathing, heart rate and other indicators. The results are then analyzed by physician who specializes in sleep medicine. Treatments differ depending on the type of disorder.

Dr. Algus is part of the sleep medicine team at SVMC. Other team members include respiratory therapists and sleep technicians. SVMC’s state-of-the-art sleep laboratory includes the latest technology for diagnosing sleep disorders in a home-like atmosphere with queen-size beds, fluffy pillows, and homey quilts.

The American Board of Internal Medicine, an independent organization dedicated to holding its members to highest standards in medicine. In addition to providing certification in sleep medicine, the board certifies physician in a variety of other specialties including internal medicine, cardiology, gastroenterology, infectious disease, and critical care medicine. To achieve certification in sleep medicine, physicians must be certified in internal medicine, complete additional training in sleep medicine, demonstrate clinical competence, and pass an exam.

"People should be aware of a few key symptoms of sleep disorders," Algus explained. "This includes sleep that doesn’t improve with common techniques such as forming good sleep habits, cutting back on caffeinated drinks, and getting regular exercise. You should be concerned if your bed partner reports loud snoring or gasping noises during sleep, or if you fall asleep doing normal activities, such as driving. Lastly, another common symptom is waking up after sleep without feeling refreshed."

Patients who are concerned they may have a sleep disorder should speak with their primary care physician. Or they can phone the SVMC Sleep Laboratory at 802-440-6031 or Dr. Algus’ office at 442-4855.

Southwestern Vermont Medical Center provides high quality medical care to Bennington County and western Windham County in Vermont and the communities in Berkshire County, Massachusetts and Rensselaer and Washington Counties in New York. SVMC recently received its third designation as a Magnet Hospital for nursing excellence. Independent studies shows that Magnet hospitals provide better care. SVMC is part of Southwestern Vermont Health Care, which includes the Centers for Living & Rehabilitation, Vermont’s only Eden Alternative nursing home and four-time winner of the Vermont State Quality Award.

For more information about the press release or SVMC, contact Erica Cummings, 802-447-5019.