When Finding The Right Care Is Worth The Drive

Connecting with a doctor through a clinical trial can be life-changing.

Sleep trials

Most people wouldn’t think of driving 75 miles to a doctor’s appointment. But Hailley, a patient at HealthEast Sleep Care in Maplewood, does.

After being diagnosed with narcolepsy, Hailley first sought help in her hometown of Rochester.

“Narcolepsy changes everything,” Hailley says. “I had to change careers and move to be closer to my family." 

A chronic disorder, narcolepsy produces overwhelming daytime drowsiness and sudden attacks of sleep. People find it hard to stay awake for any length of time, regardless of the circumstances.

“I was prescribed a medication and it wasn’t working,” she says. “Then I decided to take matters into my own hands.”

Discovering a clinical trial

After attending a narcolepsy support group, Hailley heard about two doctors who specialize in sleep medicine—Rodolfo Soca, MD, and Marcel Hungs, MD.

“On the internet, I ran across a sleep study clinic led by Dr. Soca,” she says. “After I contacted the clinic, I found out I was eligible for a clinical trial for sleep disorders through the Clinical Trials Office. I felt like I won the lottery.”

The Clinical Trials Office at St. Joseph’s Hospital supports more than 30 studies at a time, collaborating with doctors and trial sponsors in various locations to test the effectiveness of new treatments.

“I felt so at home. The care was incredible and I was treated as a person,” Hailley says. “I had a renewed hope that help was available.”

Changing lives through research

At its inception in 2011, the Clinical Trials Office worked almost exclusively with cardiac patients at St. Joseph's. But it quickly expanded into trials for migraines, Alzheimer’s, depression and sleep disorders. 

“We’re being approached with more and more studies and greater opportunities,” says Andrew Snyder, system director of research.

That means patients in the Twin Cities can potentially get access to new investigational medicines or devices years before they're available nationwide.

“I’m like a walking advertisement. I refer everyone,” Hailley says. 

Even though her trial is done, she continues to see her team of specialists at the sleep clinic in Maplewood.

“When you receive the care you need and get the answers you’ve been looking for, it’s worth the 75 miles."

View a list of current clinical trials or contact research@healtheast.org with questions.

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