Ascension Via Christi Home to State’s Only Accredited Epilepsy Center West of Kansas City

Friday, July 12, 2019

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.

Ascension Via Christi St. Francis’ Epilepsy Monitoring Unit allows patients of all ages to undergo continuous observation by trained neuro-diagnostic technicians and nurses.

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,” says 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 composed 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,” says 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 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.

Board-certified and fellowship-trained epileptologist Ricky Lee, MD, serves as Medical Director for Ascension Via Christi’s Level 3 Epilepsy Center.

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 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 3 to 5 days. This provides time to study the patient’s seizures and gather information. During a patient’s stay in the EMU, a team of trained individuals oversees his or her 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,” Dr. Lee says. “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.”

To refer a patient to Ascension Via Christi Epilepsy Center, call 316-268-8500, or fax to 316-291-4890.

Minimally Invasive Device Offers New Hope for Patients With Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Pamela Campbell injured her back 22 years ago and lived with constant pain ever since.

Pamela Campbell’s back pain caused her to become stooped over into an ”L” position. The spinal implants Dr. Goentzel placed using the Superion Indirect Decompression System has her upright for the first time in years.
One week after receiving her third implant, Campbell reported that her pain had gone from “a permanent 10” to a 6 and that she had decreased her pain medication by half.

“There was never a day that I didn’t hurt,” says the 69-year-old retiree, even after an initial back surgery and multiple rounds of physical therapy. Her only option was having a rod inserted in her back.

But at the time, her disabled husband and three children depended on her income, so she took pain pills and just kept going.

Over the years, the pain in her back caused her to stoop over into “a perfect ‘L’ position” to relieve the pressure. She couldn’t ride in a car for any length of time and needed to use a walker to get around.

But a referral to interventional pain management specialist Brian Goentzel, MD, with Ascension Medical Group Via Christi, would eventually vastly improve her life.

While under his care, she learned about a new minimally invasive outpatient procedure that potentially could help alleviate her pain: spinal implants using the Superion Indirect Decompression System.

With the Superion system, devices are delivered through a small canula and implanted between the bony projections off the back of each vertebra. The goal is to widen the narrowed passageways and in doing so relieve the pain caused by compression of the neural structures that occurs while standing or walking.

Once the implant is in place — a 30-minute to an hour-long procedure performed under light sedation — the half- to three-quarter-inch surgical site is closed and the patient can return home.

“It’s the No. 1 alternative to open spine surgery and an important new option for patients with lumbar spinal stenosis who have tried nonoperative treatment for at least six months,” says Dr. Goentzel, the state’s only physician west of the Kansas City area to offer the Medicare-approved procedure for those who qualify.

Wichitan Pamela Campbell, who underwent her third spinal implant in March, discusses her progress during a follow-up visit with interventional pain management specialist Brian Goentzel, MD.

According to an FDA-approved study released by the device’s manufacturer last November, nearly half of the patients were using opioid medications at the time of their procedure. Results of the study showed an 85 percent decrease in the proportion of patients taking opioid medication to manage their symptoms five years after implantation.

“With the growing concern about opioid overuse, misuse and potential addiction, any effective treatment that can decrease or even eliminate the need for opioid treatment in patients suffering with lumbar spinal stenosis is a welcome option,” says Dr. Goentzel.

After hearing more about the procedure, Campbell decided to give it a try. She had two devices implanted in December 2018 and within a month, could feel the difference.

“I didn’t expect much improvement after all these years,” Campbell says. “I just wanted to be able to stand up straight and look people in their faces instead of their belly buttons.”

She had a third device implanted on March 27. By the following week, her pain had gone from “a permanent 10” to a 6 and had decreased her pain medication by half.

Now able to stand up straight for the first time in years, Campbell says she has only one regret: “I wish this had been an option years ago.”

To refer a patient for whom conservative therapy is no longer effective to Dr. Goentzel for a consultation, call 316-613-4670 or fax records to 316-613-4726.