MTA Expands Sleep Apnea Program Systemwide; Becomes First Public Transportation Agency to Offer Specialized Screening, Treatment for the Disorder

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is proposing the expansion of sleep apnea screening and treatment to Long Island Rail Road train engineers and conductors, New York City Transit subway train operators and conductors, and bus operators for New York City Transit and the MTA Bus Company, becoming the first public transportation agency to systematically screen employees for obstructive sleep apnea and offer priority, specialized treatment to employees.

Pending the approval of the MTA Board on Wednesday, this program, which started at Metro-North Railroad in 2015, will expand to nearly 20,000 employees.

“Safety is our top priority and MTA is going further than any other transportation agency in the country to prevent the risks of apnea. With this proposal, we are not just working to implement industry best practices, the MTA is defining best practices,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “Sleep apnea is a serious illness and treatment will improve the quality of life for those who have it, and help them live longer.”

Sleep apnea is a medical disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts while a person is sleeping, sometimes hundreds of times, when the patient’s throat muscles intermittently relax and block his or her windpipe. This results in insufficient sleep. Left untreated, someone with the disorder functions with reduced alertness and may involuntarily fall asleep.

Using a similar methodology to that already underway at Metro-North Railroad, sleep apnea screenings will include an evaluation of an employee’s Body Mass Index, neck circumference, a medical questionnaire related to sleep and sleep patterns, and relevant medical history. Employees who are deemed at risk based upon the screening will be referred for further testing and potential diagnosis and treatment.

Those referred for more detailed testing will be given a take-home overnight sleep test administered by a medical firm that specializes in sleep disorders. Based on the results, some employees may be required to undergo medical treatment for sleep apnea, which is generally treated through the use of masks that deliver continuous positive airway pressure, or oral devices that keep the airway open, either of which is worn at home during sleep.

The MTA has evaluated proposals from 13 healthcare companies who responded to a request for proposals issued last April.

To expedite the implementation of this critically important program, we are maximizing capacity and geographic coverage by proposing the use of four separate firms to administer screenings, conduct sleep studies and make physician referrals. They are CHSLI of Rockville Centre, N.Y., ENT & Allergy / Night & Day Sleep Services of Tarrytown, N.Y., Northwell Health, Inc., of New Hyde Park, N.Y., and Respira, Inc., of Linthicum, Md., and based regionally in Paramus, N.J.

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About Northwell Health
Northwell Health is New York State’s largest health care provider and private employer, with 21 hospitals and over 550 outpatient facilities. We care for more than two million people annually in the metro New York area and beyond, thanks to philanthropic support from our communities. Our 61,000 employees – 15,000+ nurses and nearly 3,400 physicians, including nearly 2,700 members of Northwell Health Physician Partners -- are working to change health care for the better. We’re making breakthroughs in medicine at the Feinstein Institute. We're training the next generation of medical professionals at the visionary Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine and the School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies. And we offer health insurance through CareConnect. For information on our more than 100 medical specialties, visit Northwell.edu.

About the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) of the State of New York
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is North America’s busiest transportation network, serving a population of 15.3 million people in the 5,000-square-mile area fanning out from New York City through Long Island, New York’s Lower Hudson Valley, and Connecticut. MTA subways, buses, and railroads provide 2.73 billion trips each year – the equivalent of about one in every three users of mass transit in the United States and two-thirds of the nation's rail riders. MTA bridges and tunnels carry nearly 300 million vehicles a year – more than any bridge and tunnel authority in the nation. The MTA powers the New York regional economy by opening up countless job opportunities for millions – jobs that are miles from home are easy to get to with our subways, buses, and commuter trains. And after work, the network enables them to get to leisure activities: music, theater, cultural events, sports, and shopping more varied than anywhere in the country.

About Northwell Health's Center for Sleep Disorders

The Center for Sleep Disorders at the New York Head and Neck Institute offers world-class diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders and loud snoring.