Delaware’s Sandman

Jun 17th, 2013 | By admin | Category: Alumni Profile, Features

BY Theresa Gawlas Medoff

When Lyron Deputy AS ’99, MSN ’06, first entered Wes­ley in 1997, he never imag­ined he would end up where he is today: CEO of Delaware Sleep Dis­or­der Cen­ters, a sleep study provider that serves 5,000 patients annu­ally. He cred­its his expe­ri­ences at Wes­ley with pro­vid­ing the edu­ca­tional back­ground and espe­cially the courage he needed to take the huge step from staff nurse at a hos­pi­tal to suc­cess­ful nurse entrepreneur.

Deputy came to Wes­ley know­ing that he wanted to be a nurse, but there were plenty of times along the way when he doubted his abil­ity to suc­ceed in the chal­leng­ing pro­gram while also work­ing to pay his tuition. He says that the sup­port he got from the fac­ulty, and in par­tic­u­lar from nurs­ing pro­fes­sor Dr. Robert Con­tino, helped him in myr­iad ways.

“At Wes­ley, the fac­ulty and the whole cul­ture really opened my eyes to what my capa­bil­i­ties were,” Deputy says. “Dr. Con­tino was a major inspi­ra­tion to me, not only because he was a male nurse back when that was extremely rare, but also because he saw the poten­tial in me before I did. He always knew how to talk to me and keep me on track. He became a men­tor back in my early days as a stu­dent and he con­tin­ues as a men­tor to this day.”

Wesley’s nurs­ing fac­ulty also opened Deputy’s eyes to the many avenues a nurse’s career could take. After he was in the work­force for sev­eral years, they encour­aged him to return to Wes­ley to earn his MSN and obtain cer­ti­fi­ca­tion as an advanced prac­tice nurse.

“If I hadn’t gone to grad­u­ate school at Wes­ley, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” he says. “What I learned there about health pro­mo­tion, the dis­ease process and how to man­age patient care is directly applic­a­ble to my cur­rent business.”

The under­grad­u­ate busi­ness courses Deputy took also helped to pre­pare him to man­age the busi­ness. He later earned an MBA at Wilm­ing­ton University.

THE BUSINESS OF SLEEP

It was while work­ing the night shift at Bayhealth-Kent Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal in Dover that Deputy rec­og­nized a busi­ness oppor­tu­nity. Many post-surgical patients required sleep stud­ies, yet back in the early 2000s, there were only a hand­ful of sleep dis­or­der cen­ters in Delaware. Research told Deputy that the mar­ket for sleep stud­ies was large, and that sleep dis­or­ders were a seri­ous health concern.

Ten per­cent of Amer­i­cans suf­fer from some type of sleep dis­or­der. Half of those with sleep­ing dis­or­ders have obstruc­tive sleep apnea, a seri­ous con­di­tion in which a sleeper stops breath­ing numer­ous times an hour for sec­onds or even min­utes at a time. Left untreated, it can increase the risk of type 2 dia­betes, high blood pres­sure, heart attack and stroke.

Other com­monly diag­nosed sleep dis­or­ders— insom­nia, nar­colepsy, rest­less legs syn­drome, night ter­rors, and sleep­walk­ing and talking—interrupt nor­mal sleep pat­terns and leave a per­son feel­ing overly tired the next day.

“That’s a huge haz­ard for peo­ple in high-risk pro­fes­sions that require quick reflexes like police, fire­fight­ers and truck dri­vers,” Deputy says. “But sleepi­ness can cause prob­lems for any­one, par­tic­u­larly while driving.”

Deputy began his busi­ness in 2004 as Del­marva Sleep Diag­nos­tics, with one loca­tion in Mid­dle­town, appro­pri­ately enough, on Sleepy Hol­low Lane. Within a year it had expanded to two sites. But it was in 2007, when the busi­ness merged with a few health care orga­ni­za­tions and a group of doc­tors, that Delaware Sleep Dis­or­der Cen­ters really took off. The group soon opened three addi­tional sites, and now has six sites through­out Delaware.

As CEO, Deputy has an eye on the future of the busi­ness, and that future is chang­ing rapidly as health care reform pro­ceeds and the mod­els and capa­bil­i­ties for pro­vid­ing med­ical care evolves. Think­ing both as a nurse and as a busi­ness owner, Deputy sees the oppor­tu­nity for Delaware Sleep Dis­or­der Cen­ters to evolve its model from being pri­mar­ily a sleep-testing lab to more of a clin­i­cal set­ting. In that model, there would be more focus on edu­ca­tion about treat­ments as well as ongo­ing follow-up to see how those treat­ments are working.

“We’re try­ing to evolve the role of the advanced prac­tice nurse to be able to assist the physi­cians more with edu­ca­tion and fol­low up, because treat­ment for sleep dis­or­ders is very prob­lem­atic,” Deputy says. “We’ve been sleep­ing the same way since birth, for the most part, so it’s def­i­nitely a chal­lenge to con­vince the body to sleep with the device or to sleep at a dif­fer­ent time of day.”

WESLEY CONNECTION REMAINS

In addi­tion to run­ning Delaware Sleep Dis­or­der Cen­ters, Deputy has been an adjunct clin­i­cal fac­ulty mem­ber at Wes­ley since 2005, work­ing in the clin­i­cal skills lab to help stu­dents prac­tice and refine their skills. At first he thought of the job as a one-year com­mit­ment just to help out the depart­ment, but he soon real­ized that teach­ing was a call­ing for him.

“It’s my way of being able to pass the baton on to the next gen­er­a­tion,” Deputy says. Just as Con­tino did for him, Deputy encour­ages stu­dents if they begin to doubt their abil­ity or when they are hav­ing dif­fi­culty bal­anc­ing work or fam­ily with schooling.

In the clin­i­cal lab, Deputy met Bran­don Hoskins ’11, who has worked as an emer­gency trauma RN at Chris­tiana Care since grad­u­at­ing from Wesley.

“Lyron was not only a really good instruc­tor, but he has also become a great men­tor to me,” Hoskins says. “Nurs­ing is a rig­or­ous pro­gram to study at Wes­ley, and he made sure that I knew all my skills and became sure of myself. Since then he’s become my friend, but above all I am thank­ful to have him as a mentor.”

Deputy says that one of the most impor­tant lessons he tries to teach stu­dents is always care for their patients as they would a fam­ily member.

As an alum­nus and cur­rent fac­ulty mem­ber, Deputy is excited about the pro­jected open­ing in 2014 of Wesley’s new Health Sci­ences Build­ing. He pre­dicts that the new build­ing and the expanded oppor­tu­ni­ties that come along with it will attract addi­tional well-qualified stu­dents to Wesley.

The new build­ing will increase the nurs­ing department’s space to 30,000 square feet instead of 5,000 and to four class­rooms instead of one, notes Con­tino, who now serves as chair of the nurs­ing depart­ment. It will also allow for an expan­sion of the department’s teach­ing tech­nol­ogy, which is vital in the field today.

Con­tino has watched Deputy evolve from an under­grad­u­ate nurs­ing stu­dent to a well-respected fig­ure in Delaware’s med­ical establishment.

“He’s a leader in this state, not only as a CEO but also as an advo­cate for nurs­ing,” says Con­tino, who serves with Deputy on the Delaware Board of Nurs­ing. “When I think of Lyron, I think of the word suc­cess not only as a nurse, but as a leader and as a person.”

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