Lisa Feierstein's work is all about breathing. But it's also about educating the public about the realities of obstructive sleep apnea, an under diagnosed and dangerous sleep disorder.
Feierstein is the founder and co-owner of Active Healthcare, a medical equipment company that specializes in CPAP products, designed to keep sleep disorder patients' airways open while sleeping, as well as inhalers and nebulizers for asthma patients and supplies for those with diabetes.
She was recently named one of Business Leader magazine's 2010 "Women Extraordinaire," and next month will lead the Wake County Asthma Coalition's third annual Asthma Fair.
"Helping those who struggle to breathe on a regular basis is what we are all about," Feierstein said.
Obstructive sleep apnea, a sleep disorder characterized by episodes of blocked breathing during sleep, can lead to insomnia, headaches, personality disorders, depression and even death, as well as increase risk for stroke and heart disease.
"Individuals not treating obstructive sleep apnea often suffer in their personal and professional lives and, in extreme cases, open themselves up to life-threatening accidents while falling asleep at the wheel or on the job," Feierstein said.
The nurse-turned-entrepreneur launched the Active Healthcare business with her husband, Steve Feierstein, in 1990 out of her dining room. Since then, she has opened locations all over the Triangle, from North Raleigh and Wake Forest to Chapel Hill and Clayton.
Feierstein's crusade to make breathing easier did not stop with Active Healthcare. She also opened IntegraSleep diagnostic centers in Clayton, Raleigh and Smithfield. The centers specialize in testing for sleep disorders, as well as providing educational information for sleep disorder patients.
"Active Healthcare is special because of the niche it provides to the community as sleep apnea experts, and the excellent educational and support component it provides through community education and support groups," Evelyn Katibian, a fellow nurse.
Though business minded, Feierstein also does volunteer and community work.
She served as the first chairwoman of the Wake County Asthma Coalition, sponsors A.W.A.K.E support groups in the community for sleep apnea patients, and has donated CPAP machines to local nonprofits, such as Urban Ministries.
Next month, Feierstein will lead the Wake County Asthma Coalition's third annual Asthma Fair scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon April 30 at the WakeMed Raleigh Campus.
During the fair, sessions in English and Spanish will be held covering asthma topics, and more than 50 booths will feature educational displays about the condition.
The opportunity to spread the word about asthma, sleep apnea and the dangers of going undiagnosed has been gratifying, Feierstein said.
The healthcare professionals at Active Healthcare aim to continue to look for ways to get involved in the community and make the simple act of breathing regularly a reality for all.
"I draw my inspiration from all the thousands of patients that we have touched and continue to touch," Feierstein said.
For more information on Active Healthcare see activehealthcare.com.