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Ascension Via Christi now home to state's only accredited Epilepsy Center west of Kansas City

The Epilepsy Center at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis has achieved two-year accreditation by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers as a Level 3 Epilepsy Center for adults—making it home to the only accredited epilepsy center in the state west of Kansas City.

The NAEC is a national organization setting the standard and policy to provide quality epilepsy care. During the accreditation process, the NAEC Board reviews information about the hospital, technology, safety policies and the expertise of the epilepsy team and based on that review grants appropriate level of accreditation to a center.

“According to NAEC, Level 3 Epilepsy Centers have the professional expertise and facilities to provide the highest level medical evaluation and treatment for patients with complex epilepsy,” said Ricky Lee, MD, a board-certified and fellowship-trained epileptologist who serves as the center’s medical director.

The Ascension Via Christi Epilepsy Center team is comprised of specially trained caregivers who work together to provide the most appropriate diagnosis and treatment for epilepsy patients. The team includes board-certified neurologists; nurse practitioners; EEG technicians; neuropsychologists; an epilepsy neurosurgeon; neuro-radiologists; psychiatrists and a clinical research coordinator.

They share a common goal: Helping patients control seizures and lead active lives using the latest diagnostic technologies to provide proper evaluation, diagnosis and treatment, which may include medication, surgery or implanted devices, depending on the type of epilepsy and seizures.

“Many of the patients who have epilepsy have complex health issues,” said Philip Newlin, MD, chief medical officer for Ascension Medical Group Via Christi. “Having a close to home epilepsy center where they can receive a diagnosis, plan of care and state-of-the-art treatment takes a tremendous weight off of their shoulders.”
In addition to assembling a team with special expertise, training and experience in caring for adult and pediatric patients living with epilepsy, Ascension Via Christi has invested in the facilities and technology in which to provide that higher level of care.

For example, St. Francis has an Epilepsy Monitoring Unit where patients of all ages can undergo continuous observation by trained neuro-diagnostic technicians and nurses in a safe and comfortable environment. There, the epileptologist  can classify seizures, form an accurate diagnosis and, with input from the care team, design an individualized treatment plan using electroencephalography, or EEG, equipment to analyze the patient's brain activity and high-precision video cameras to document body movements during seizures. They also use the video EEG monitoring to rule out non-epilepsy-related events.

Each of the EMU's four well-appointed private rooms has a television, DVD player and other comforts of home to help patients pass the time. Average length of stay for continuous inpatient monitoring is three to five days. This provides ample time to study the patient's seizures and gather information. During a stay in the EMU, a team of trained individuals oversees patient monitoring and care.

Working in partnership with Ascension Via Christi Research, the Epilepsy Center also provides its adult and pediatric patients from throughout Kansas and northern Oklahoma the opportunity to gain early access to investigational medications and devices through its participation in multi-center national and global studies.

“Some of the clinical trials we’ve participated in have led to approval of new seizure treatments,” said Dr. Lee. “Because of our experience and participation in research, we are able to provide patients with the most up-to-date treatment options, including new treatment options that otherwise would not be available. Our goal: Better knowledge and improved patient care.

About Roz Hutchinson

Roz Hutchinson is a Wichita wife, mother and chief spoiler of six grandkids and three Chihuahuas, a die-hard women's basketball fan, and director of Communications and Public Relations for Ascension Via Christi.