Dr. Frank O. Horton III
(News story) Dr. Frank O. Horton III, a leader in the practice of sleep medicine in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan, who was an accreditor for sleep clinics across the country, died Oct. 10 in his Sylvania Township home. He was known to his patients for his jokes as well as his persistence in improving their well-being. He was 69. He was diagnosed with squamous cell cancer in February and continued working at ProMedica Toledo Hospital until March. He saw patients in Toledo for more than 35 years, starting a pulmonary practice at Toledo Hospital in 1979. He soon added the specialty of sleep medicine, which he saw as a nearly unexplored area, his son Nicholas said. By about 2005, his work was heavily focused on sleep medicine and through the years he oversaw ProMedica's expansion of its sleep labs from one to about seven. "He was the man to go to for sleep," said Rosie Assenmacher, a registered nurse who worked with him for 28 years. Dr. Horton typically saw about 20 patients a day, four days a week. On the fifth day, he interpreted sleep studies - he usually had 40 to 50 such data downloads from sleep labs per week - and traveled to sleep clinics in regional cities. At various times he saw patients in Adrian, Defiance, Fremont, and Lima, Ohio, and he had speeding tickets to prove it. Early on, when Dr. Ronald Wainz was his only partner, Dr. Horton worked full days every other weekend too. As their practice added partners, he worked every third weekend and then every fourth. In recent years, the practice has had about six doctors and 10 other employees. But Dr. Horton added more travel, as a reviewer of sleep labs for a sleep disorders group. "He worked incessantly," Dr. Wainz said. One of his biggest challenges was trying to get his patients to stop smoking; about 60 percent of his patients smoked at some point in their lives, his nurse estimated. "You cannot smoke unless you're on fire," he'd tell patients, but he also wrote letters to the editor about the harm from second-hand smoke. He was often quoted in The Blade and other local media in stories about getting a good night's sleep. "If you are sleep deprived, your reaction time is like that of a person with a couple of drinks in his system," Dr. Horton told The Blade in 2012. Another challenge was to get his patients to actually use the sleep apnea devices that he prescribed for them. The average U.S. compliance rate for patients wearing such devices at night is 30 percent to 40 percent, Dr. Wainz said, but their practice claims double that rate. Dr. Horton, he said, was an old-school physician who encouraged his patients to return for adjustments to devices that weren't immediately comfortable. And he always had jokes for them. Some were even a little off-color and he'd tell them to little old ladies, who only seemed to love him all the more, Dr. Wainz said. The bureaucracy of medicine annoyed Dr. Horton. He always seemed to win, Dr. Wainz said, in convincing insurance representatives of the need for his prescriptions, but he saw such discussions as time lost with his patients. His politics were conservative. He displayed a photo of George W. Bush in his office and had once golfed with Newt Gingrich. He was born Feb. 18, 1947, to Frank and Sylvia Horton and grew up in the Cincinnati area. He graduated in 1965 from Loveland High School, where he ran cross country and played basketball - helping win the city championship his senior year. He received a bachelor's degree in biology in 1969 from Morehead State University in Kentucky and graduated from the Medical College of Ohio in 1973. He interned at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Mich., and was a resident at Denver General Hospital and the Cleveland Clinic. He had fellowships at the University of Oklahoma. He met his wife Susan playing tennis, and they married Dec. 26, 1988. He enjoyed golf and work in their backyard and was seemingly ambidextrous, his wife said. Surviving are his wife, Susan; sons, Frank IV and Nicholas; sister, Sylvia Layne; and two grandchildren. Services are at 10 a.m. today in Most Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church. Walker Funeral Home is handling arrangements. The family suggests tributes to the church or the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. This is a news story by Blade staff writer Jane Schmucker. Contact her at: email@example.com or 417-724-6050.
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