|By Carrie Rengers, The Wichita Eagle|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
"I have a lot of other interests," Bloxham said. "I have two grandchildren in
His "retirement" lasted four and a half months.
"With my wife, it lasted 45 minutes," Bloxham said. "Didn't quite make it an hour before she suggested that I really needed to find someplace else to go. My extreme talents at delegating were not relevant in my new environment."
Now, Bloxham is back to work establishing Kansas Sleep Medicine in the
"He thought that there would be some good synergies there."
"When I was in residency and fellowship training, there really wasn't a sleep medicine specialty," he said.
Bloxham was an internal medicine resident at the
"I encountered patients that were mysteries. Were not doing well and were not getting better. I wondered out loud about these patients if, since nothing else had turned up, if there might be a problem during sleep," he said.
"At that time, that being in the mid-1970s, we did lots of tests, but essentially none of them were while people were asleep," he said. "They were all done during business hours. It raised the question: Could there be something wrong with these people that happened while they were asleep? As it turned out, a number of these patients did turn out to have sleep apnea. They were treated, and they improved. ... That's what kindled my interests."
How did you start your first sleep medicine practice here?
At first we developed sleep laboratories in the hospitals. As it turned out, the sleep testing was an outpatient phenomena, and it was more convenient and more efficient to do these procedures in an outpatient setting than it was to do them in the middle of a hospital building. So in 1998, we started the
What were people's reactions?
It was very difficult since we were starting from scratch. Most physicians really weren't conversant ... in these tests or the diagnoses because it hadn't been part of their formal education. ... So that was a problem. The patients and their families hadn't heard of these things. And when you tell them that they were going to stay all night ... they were incredulous. They couldn't imagine it. It took a lot of talking and explaining. ... Likewise, in the beginning, the insurance companies had no experience with this. There were no existing codes for these procedures and treatments when we started out. There was an extensive education process.
Not to mention permitting?
When I first used CPAP (a continuous positive airway pressure machine), it of course had never been used almost anywhere. I had to have a federal experimental device permit because it wasn't OK for human use yet.
What helped spread the word?
One of the local television stations came out and took pictures and interviewed the first person we ever tried that on.
And the story went national?
Wives ... were frantic to get one for their snoring husband. It created a mini storm.
A big change is public awareness. Almost everybody has heard of sleep apnea now. ... From a comparative standpoint, it's as common as asthma or diabetes.
Why is that?
The two most common risk factors ... are age ... and weight. In
Why start a new practice?
What I was hoping for was more autonomy, more independence and the ability to try new things quickly.
You couldn't do that where you were?
I think the feeling was that ... practicing as an individual as opposed to in a large organization would give me the opportunity to ... be more independent. We are trying to push toward being able to manage sleep disorders as economically and cost effectively as possible without sacrificing any of the results we've had before. And what that ... means, as an example, we're doing much more sleep testing in the home now than we've ever done before.
Why associate with the
That's what gave me the opportunity to actually go to work and do this, having them provide IT and the back-office support. ... It's so daunting to set up a medical practice. There's so much that goes into it today.
You hadn't planned a new practice all along, though?
I actually did intend to retire. ... I didn't really leave to do this. ... I left, then this all developed.
So, anything keep you up at night?
No, not very much. ... Just being busy and having a lot on my plate gives me things to think about at night, but I'm blessed with not having any significant sleep problems, I'm afraid.
What's something few people know about you?
I am a big ... train fan. My favorite thing to do is to ride almost anywhere that I can go on a train. And if that's not available, then I'll just go someplace and watch them go by.
Did you ever want to work for the railroad?
Sure. The tongue-in-cheek comment that I always make to answer that (is) when I signed up for pulmonary medicine, I thought that was a doctor on a sleeping car.
Ah, the Pullman ...
When I got there, and there were all these people coughing and wheezing, it was a big surprise to me.
(c)2014 The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kan.)
Visit The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kan.) at www.kansas.com
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