LHSC's Epilepsy Monitoring Unit improves patient experience with addition of an Epilepsy Navigator

March 26, 2018

Today is Purple Day for epilepsy – a seizure disorder that affects 50 million people worldwide. It is an important awareness day that LHSC is pleased to support.

The Epilepsy Program at London Health Sciences Centre is widely recognized for its highly qualified team of professionals consisting of neurologists, neurosurgeons, nurses, psychologists, EEG technologists, neuropathologists, neuroradiologists, clinical fMRI specialist, and neurophysiologists dedicated to the management of epilepsy, particularly epilepsy surgery.

Its centerpiece is the 10-bed, inpatient Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) at University Hospital, which is one of the largest in Canada. Devoted primarily to investigation of patients for possible epilepsy surgery, the EMU is also used to aid diagnosis of epilepsy and other related conditions, and to evaluate patients for other types of treatment, including trials of antiepileptic medications.

In addition to the multidisciplinary team members noted above, LHSC also offers access to a special Epilepsy Navigator for its EMU inpatients. This position was created in late 2015 with a goal of improving the patient experience as they move through the care journey. 

Those who are referred to the EMU have the opportunity to work with our navigator, registered nurse, Krista Doyle before, during and after their inpatient stay. In her work, Krista provides over 300 patients each year with the following support:

  • Acts as the first point of contact by calling patients once they have received a referral to the EMU, providing helpful information about the program and what to expect during their stay
  • Acts as an ongoing resource throughout patient stays on the EMU
  • Provides a post-discharge follow-up call  two weeks out to answer any questions or concerns patients may have
  • Is available on an on-call basis for discharged patients when they have questions or concerns before or after their two-week follow-up call

“There can be a lot of natural anxiety that comes along with an upcoming hospital stay, so being able to connect with patients soon after they’ve been referred to the unit can help to reduce a lot of the worry and concerns during the wait between referral and hospital stay,” says Krista Doyle, Epilepsy Navigator at LHSC. “Similarly, having access to someone that you’re already familiar with during your stay and once you’ve gone home provides additional peace of mind because patients know that there is going to be someone available to answer questions or address concerns while they wait for the next steps in their care journey.”

For today’s Purple Day, the team at LHSC is putting on their purple best from head to toe to mark this important awareness event. For Doyle, Purple Day is an important opportunity to spread the word about epilepsy and its prevalence. Despite roughly one in 100 people having epilepsy, it remains one of the more quiet conditions where many seek to hide the fact they have it. The more it is talked about, the less people will feel there are any stigmas associated with it. 

Doyle notes, “I’m actually amazed at the resiliency of people with epilepsy. I’ve worked with epilepsy patients for 30 years now and it’s always interesting and engaging. I’m still constantly in awe of what people have experienced and the challenges they’ve overcome. It’s a privilege to get to work with them.”

Purple Day is an international grassroots effort dedicated to increasing awareness about epilepsy worldwide. Each year on March 26 people in countries around the world are invited to wear purple and host events in support of epilepsy awareness. To sweeten today’s festivities the program is also hosting their annual bake sale at UH on the 10 floor from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., with all proceeds going to the Epilepsy Unit.