Ypsi clinic offers free sleep studies for uninsured patients through Michigan Medicine partnership

Ypsilanti’s Hope Clinic, in partnership with Michigan Medicine, has launched a program to offer free sleep studies to current Hope patients. The program aims to identify, diagnose, and treat moderate to severe sleep apnea to improve patients' sleep and overall health.

Hope Clinic Medical Director Dr. Martha Kershaw says that while clinic staff have recognized that sleep troubles could be contributing to broader health issues in many patients, the clinic previously lacked the resources to offer sleep studies. Kershaw says Michigan Medicine’s neurology department approached Hope Clinic in 2022 about how to "deepen the connections between Hope Clinic and Michigan Medicine." Now, through the partnership with Michigan Medicine, the clinic can offer a sleep clinic to current patients five times a year.

"Because sleep is a basic need, when someone is having issues sleeping it typically requires a more expensive fix," Kershaw says. "The crux of it is sleep underlies all sorts of other problems that we can try to manage, but you can only get so far before you hit a wall in treatment."

Kershaw explains that Hope’s sleep clinic doesn’t require patients to stay overnight and be monitored in a lab, but can actually take place at the patient’s home. Participating patients receive Home Sleep Apnea Testing (HSAT) devices, which connect to a smartphone app that tracks sleep patterns over the course of a month. If Hope’s physicians and sleep staff are able to diagnose a patient with severe obstructive sleep apnea, patients can be fitted for and receive a CPAP machine free of charge. Kershaw says the sleep studies Hope has offered so far have been full of patients, and that the "no-call/no-show rate for these sleep appointments is almost nonexistent."

"The thing with sleep apnea is if someone has it, you can do your best to treat the other things around it, but nothing is going to help until you actually address the disorder itself," Kershaw says. "By being able to identify and treat specifically sleep apnea we can actually have a greater impact on people dealing with all sorts of other issues such as hypertension, depression, and diabetes."

Hope focuses its efforts on patients who are completely uninsured. Kershaw says that if potential patients come to the clinic but may be eligible for health insurance, Hope’s staff works to get them connected with insurance resources. Kershaw hopes that through the partnership with Michigan Medicine, the clinic will be able to continuously offer the program to patients free of charge.

"Sleep services may or may not be covered by insurance, and our mission is to find the people that fall between the cracks and connect people with resources they may not have known existed," Kershaw says. "Everybody needs good sleep, and not getting it is a really basic problem that underlies other problems."

To learn more about Hope Clinic’s sleep study program, visit the clinic's website.

Rylee Barnsdale is a Michigan native and longtime Washtenaw County resident. She wants to use her journalistic experience from her time at Eastern Michigan University writing for the Eastern Echo to tell the stories of Washtenaw County residents that need to be heard.

Photo courtesy of Hope Clinic.
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.