August 19, 2019

Province Funds Epilepsy Monitoring Unit

Saskatchewan residents living with epilepsy can look forward to greater access to monitoring and diagnostic services with a highly specialized telemetry unit at Saskatoon’s Royal University Hospital (RUH).

The provincial government has committed to $1.35 million operational funding each year starting in 2020-21 to establish a four-bed Epilepsy Monitoring Unit. The Royal University Hospital Foundation (RUHF) will begin efforts to fundraise $1.2 million for the cost of capital and equipment.

“Our government is committed to improving access to high-quality health care services for people with epilepsy,” Health Minister Jim Reiter said.  “With the generous help of the RUH Foundation, this dedicated, specialized unit will make a tremendous difference to patients who need this service.”

“The addition of this unit will allow the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) to provide improved access to in-depth diagnostic and treatment services for people with difficult-to-diagnose or difficult-to-treat seizures or epilepsy,” SHA Vice President of Provincial Programs Corey Miller said.  “We are very grateful to our partners within the Ministry of Health and the Royal University Hospital Foundation for supporting the SHA in providing this improved access to innovative care.”

Many people with epilepsy are able to control seizures with medication.  However, telemetry is an important tool to determine if patients living with epilepsy will benefit from surgery to alleviate seizures and greatly improve their lives.

The telemetry unit will monitor the electrical activity in a patient’s brain over an extended time to determine if surgery would benefit the patient.

The telemetry unit will include dedicated epilepsy monitoring equipment and cameras, allowing physicians to conduct readings and assessments at the patient’s bedside.  Epilepsy monitoring is currently provided at RUH, but the dedicated unit will greatly improve access to services.

“RUH Foundation has already begun to engage potential donors in support of the funding required for the important work of Saskatchewan Epilepsy Program led by Dr. Jose Téllez-Zenteno and his team,” RUHF CEO Arla Gustafson said.  “Having additional telemetry beds will improve the ability to assess and determine if patients are candidates for surgery.  For people living with epilepsy, this is life changing.”

Two beds equipped for pediatric epilepsy telemetry services will also become available in fall 2019 with the opening of the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital.  These beds will be available for children to receive telemetry services as required.

Approximately 10,500 people in Saskatchewan are living with epilepsy, 700 of whom are children.

To donate to the telemetry unit, visit the RUHF web site.