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New sleep clinic to benefit from annual fundraiser
Glenn County's biggest fundraiser of the year attracted more than 300 people and raised money for a new sleep study center slated for Glenn Medical Center.
Money from the seventh annual Splendor in the Valley, presented by the Glenn Medical Foundation, will go toward equipment, beds and other needs in a sleep study clinic that should open shortly after the first of the year, according to officials.
The sleep study program is under the direction of staff neurologist Matthew Merliss, and will use the latest technology to assess patients.
Merliss, also board certified in sleep medicine, said the facilities at Glenn Medical Center will provide the only sleep clinic in the surrounding counties with a board certified sleep neurologist at the helm. That means MediCal patients often do not get the treatment they need, he said.
"There is a huge epidemic of lack of sleep in this country, and it leads to increased morbidity and mortality rates," Merliss said. "There's a huge amount of sleep disorders."
For example, "there's an epidemic of excessive weight (in people), leading to sleep apnea," he said.
In this common sleep disorder, patients stop breathing for short periods during sleep. It can happen five to 30 times in an hour, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Merliss said the disruption of sleep does more than keep people from getting a good night's rest. It can result in series medical issues such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack and many other diseases.
Because people with sleep apnea are frequently tired, they are more likely to fall asleep at the wheel of a car, making them as much as four times more likely to cause an accident, Merliss said.
Sleep apnea also can be caused by other diseases, like stroke and heart attack, he added.
The sleep center also will evaluate and treat sleep walking, sleep eating, period leg movements, REM sleep disorders and other issues, including those found in children.
Merliss said medical studies show, for example, that about 25 percent of children diagnosed with attention deficit disorder have sleep apnea.
"It's mostly from tonsils and adenoids," Merliss said. "It's treatable."
To assess sleep issues, patients will spend the night at the hospital, where machines might be monitor their breathing, heart rate, oxygen levels, eye movement. And, the technician will keep a watchful eye on movement and behavior, Merliss noted.
Splendor in the Valley is held at Cal Worthington's Big W Ranch near Orland, and features live and silent auctions, and a night of music and other festivities.
The biggest ticket item brought in $18,000.
Winners Renee and John McAmis and Barbara and Gary Weibel will take their second trip to Alaska aboard Cal Worthington's private Lear jet, with Worthington and his son, Rod, at the controls.
"We did the trip three years ago and had a terrific time," Renee McAmis said. "It will be fun and it's a worthy cause."
Worthington donates the trip every year as a way to support Glenn County's only hospital.
"It's fun. I have a great time," Cal Worthington said. "I don't take anything for it, not even money for fuel."
Co-chairwoman and foundation board member Vee Weathers said the rural hospital "has come full circle" with the help of the nonprofit fundraising organization.
She noted that specialists now come weekly from outside the area to see patients.
Board Chairman Keith Hansen noted that everyone was "having a good time. ... We appreciate their support." He said he was disappointed, however, that no county officials attended the event.
Proceeds from the annual gala go directly to the foundation to purchase state-of-the-art medical equipment and improve patient rooms, organizers said.
For more information or to make a donation, call Glenn Medical Center at 934-1800.
Contact Lydia Harris at 934-6800, 865-3110 or email@example.com.