Bill Schmitt
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Christiana Care Health System earns Level 3 Epilepsy Center designation

Health care system offers Delaware’s only epilepsy center for adults

Christiana Care Health System’s Epilepsy Center has received Level 3 designation from the National Association of Epilepsy Centers. The accreditation is awarded to epilepsy centers that have the professional expertise and facilities to provide medical evaluation and treatment for patients with complex epilepsy in inpatient and outpatient settings.

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The Christiana Care Epilepsy Center is the only program of its kind for adults in Delaware and now the only one to receive the Level 3 designation.

“We are honored that the National Association of Epilepsy Centers recognized our dedication to providing excellent care to our patients,” said Valerie E. Dechant, M.D., physician lead for Christiana Care’s Neuroscience Service Line. “The designation validates Christiana Care’s commitment to providing comprehensive, high-quality care to our neighbors with epilepsy.”

The National Association of Epilepsy Centers defines four levels of epilepsy care and accredits epilepsy centers that provide Level 3 and 4 care. A Level 3 center provides a range of medical, neuropsychological and psychosocial services needed to treat patients with refractory epilepsy. Level 3 epilepsy centers also provide neurodiagnostic evaluations, as well as medical, neuropsychological and psychosocial services.

A special feature of the Christiana Care program is the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit at Christiana Hospital, one of only a few facilities in the nation using a sophisticated fall-prevention system that enables patients to move around the room safely while protecting them from injury if they have a seizure.

“Our outpatient and inpatient services for epilepsy patients — including our new Epilepsy Monitoring Unit—offer specialized care close to patients’ homes, so there is no need for them to leave Delaware,” said John R. Pollard, M.D., medical director of the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit. “Before the opening of the Christiana Care Epilepsy Center, epilepsy patients who are often not permitted to drive had difficulty reaching centers in Baltimore or Philadelphia.”

A vulnerable population
Epilepsy is a central nervous system disorder that causes seizures — periods of unusual behavior, sensations or loss of awareness often without a clear underlying cause. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 3.4 million people nationwide with the disorder. In Delaware, there are 9,700 active epilepsy patients, including 8,400 adults.

For many patients, just keeping track of their care plan can be challenging. Treating epilepsy involves multiple caregivers, including primary care physicians, emergency room doctors, neurologists, neurosurgeons, social workers, behavioral health specialists, medical assistants, nurses, advanced practice providers and neuro-radiologists. Patients also receive advice from such organizations as the Epilepsy Foundation and pharmaceutical and medical device companies.

“Coordinating the recommendations of all of these different caregivers can be a complicated burden on the patient,” Dr. Pollard said. “The Christiana Care Epilepsy Center solves this problem by integrating their epilepsy care. Our center becomes a single trusted point of contact for our patients.”

Providing optimal care in focused settings
The Christiana Care Epilepsy Center uses a patient-focused approach to diagnose epilepsy and provide ongoing care. Outpatient services for routine care are within the outpatient neurology offices located in the HealthCare Center at Christiana, across the street from Christiana Hospital. There are currently three epilepsy specialists.

The two-bed Epilepsy Monitoring Unit is the “crown jewel” of the Christiana Care Epilepsy Center. Patients in the unit either have persistent episodes or are experiencing unwanted side effects of medication. The unit has state-of-the-art video- and audio-monitoring equipment, electroencephalography (EEG) to measure brain waves and electrocardiography (EKG) to monitor the heart’s electrical activity. Since opening in January 2018, the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit has served more than 120 patients.


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About ChristianaCare

Headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware, ChristianaCare is one of the country’s most dynamic health care organizations, centered on improving health outcomes, making high-quality care more accessible and lowering health care costs. ChristianaCare includes an extensive network of primary care and outpatient services, home health care, urgent care centers, three hospitals (1,430 beds), a freestanding emergency department, a Level I trauma center and a Level III neonatal intensive care unit, a comprehensive stroke center and regional centers of excellence in heart and vascular care, cancer care and women’s health. It also includes the pioneering Gene Editing Institute.

ChristianaCare is nationally recognized as a great place to work, rated by Forbes as the 2nd best health system for diversity and inclusion, and the 29th best health system to work for in the United States, and by IDG Computerworld as one of the nation’s Best Places to Work in IT. ChristianaCare is rated by Healthgrades as one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals and continually ranked among the nation’s best by U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek and other national quality ratings. ChristianaCare is a nonprofit teaching health system with more than 260 residents and fellows. With its groundbreaking Center for Virtual Health and a focus on population health and value-based care, ChristianaCare is shaping the future of health care.