Delaware’s Sandman

Jun 17th, 2013 | By | 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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