Children’s of MS epilepsy center receives highest level of accreditation 

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The Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at Children’s of Mississippi includes neurosurgery, neurology nursing practitioners, neuropsychiatry, care coordination, neuroradiology, a dietitian, EEG technologists, and neurologists who are board-certified epilepsy specialists. (Photos: Joe Ellis/UMMC Communications)

By Annie Oeth

Jackson Advocate Guest Writer

The National Association of Epilepsy Centers accredited Children’s of Mississippi’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Center as a Level 4 epilepsy center, the highest level of care. 

The University of Mississippi Medical Center has long been accredited by the NAEC as a Level 4 center, combining adult and pediatric programs, but this is the first time Children’s of Mississippi, the pediatric arm of UMMC, has sought and received the designation on its own. Both are now designated as Level 4 centers. 

The UMMC and Children’s of Mississippi are home to the only NAEC-accredited epilepsy centers in the state. 

“Receiving the highest accreditation from the National Association of Epilepsy Centers shows the quality of care offered to our patients,” said Dr. Colette Parker, Dr. Owen B. and Lynn M. Evans chair of Pediatric Neurology and chief of the Division of Pediatric Neurology. 

A Level 4 center provides the most complex forms of intensive neurodiagnostic monitoring, as well as more extensive medical, neuropsychological, and psychosocial treatment. Level 4 centers also offer a complete evaluation for epilepsy surgery, including intracranial electrodes and a broad range of surgical procedures for epilepsy. 

Opened in September, the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at Children’s of Mississippi represents an expansion of care for children and adolescents with epilepsy and other seizure disorders. The center grew from a four-bed epilepsy monitoring unit to eight and provides 24-hour coverage for epilepsy monitoring at the state’s only children’s hospital. 

In 2023, Children’s of Mississippi provided more than 400 video electroencephalograms, and that number is expected to top 600 this year, said Laura Freeman, epilepsy care coordinator. 

An electroencephalogram, or EEG, is a test that measures electrical activity in the brain. Epilepsy, a neurological condition that makes people more susceptible to recurrent, unprovoked seizures, affects more than 5,100 Mississippians ages 17 and younger, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

“Some pediatric patients will outgrow their seizures,” Parker said, “while for others, epilepsy is a lifelong condition.” 

During their lifetime, about 11 percent of Americans will have a seizure, which is defined as a burst of uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain that causes abnormalities in movement, behavior, sensations, or awareness. 

Treatment plans include ketogenic diets, anti-seizure medications, vagal nerve stimulation, and evaluation for surgery, said Dr. James Thompson, assistant professor of pediatric neurology. Neurosurgery at Children’s of Mississippi and pre-surgical care includes ROSA, a robotic platform that provides three-dimensional mapping of the brain. External intraoperative monitoring is also available through the center for neurosurgery. 

The multidisciplinary care included in the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center team includes neurosurgery, neurology nursing practitioners, neuropsychiatry, care coordination, neuroradiology, a dietitian, and EEG technologists. Board-certified epilepsy specialists include neurologists Parker, Thompson, Dr. Marcus Lee, and Dr. Brad Ingram. 

The center also is training the next generation of pediatric neurologists, Parker said. “We have a children’s neurology residency program, which is a five-year training program, and a post-residency neurophysiology residency.” 

The care available through the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at Children’s of Mississippi is among the most expert in the country, said Dr. Mary Taylor, Suzan B. Thames chair and professor of pediatrics. 

“The children of this state deserve the best care,” she said. “Through the efforts of our pediatric neurology team, the highest level of epilepsy care is offered here in Mississippi, close to home for our patients and their families.” 

The nonprofit NAEC supports epilepsy centers around the country in delivering quality comprehensive care to people with epilepsy, by setting standards of care, advocating for access to high quality epilepsy center services and providing knowledge and resources to its member centers. The organization’s membership includes more than 260 specialized epilepsy centers throughout the U.S.

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Children’s of MS epilepsy center receives highest level of accreditation 

By Jackson Advocate News Service
April 8, 2024