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Impact of the coronavirus disease-2019 pandemic on Veterans Health Administration Sleep Services.

Sico JJ, Koo BB, Perkins AJ, Burrone L, Sexson A, Myers LJ, Taylor S, Yarbrough WC, Daggy JK, Miech EJ, Bravata DM. Impact of the coronavirus disease-2019 pandemic on Veterans Health Administration Sleep Services. SAGE open medicine. 2023 May 3; 11:20503121231169388.

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OBJECTIVES: To understand the impact of the coronavirus disease-2019 pandemic on sleep services within the United States Department of Veterans Affairs using separate surveys from "pre-COVID" and pandemic periods. METHODS: Data from a pre-pandemic survey (September to November 2019) were combined with data from a pandemic-period survey (August to November 2020) to Veterans Affairs sleep medicine providers about their local sleep services within 140 Veterans Affairs facilities). RESULTS: A total of 67 (47.9%) facilities responded to the pandemic online survey. In-lab diagnostic and titration sleep studies were stopped at 91.1% of facilities during the pandemic; 76.5% of facilities resumed diagnostic studies and 60.8% resumed titration studies by the time of the second survey. Half of the facilities suspended home sleep testing; all facilities resumed these services. In-person positive airway pressure clinics were stopped at 76.3% of facilities; 46.7% resumed these clinics. Video telehealth was either available or in development at 86.6% of facilities and was considered a lasting addition to sleep services. Coronavirus disease-2019 transmission precautions occurred at high rates. Sleep personnel experienced high levels of stress, anxiety, fear, and burnout because of the pandemic and in response to unexpected changes in sleep medicine care delivery. CONCLUSIONS: Sleep medicine services within the Veterans Affairs evolved during the pandemic with many key services being interrupted, including in-lab studies and in-person positive airway pressure clinics. Expansion and initiation of telehealth sleep services occurred commonly. The pandemic adversely affected sleep medicine personnel as they sought to maintain access to care.

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