Provice to open new dedicated epilepsy unit at RUH

The Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon. Google Streetview Image.

Saskatchewan is getting a four-bed unit dedicated to diagnosing and treating patients with epilepsy and seizure disorders.

The specialized telemetry unit was announced Monday. It’s slated for an opening sometime in 2021. The province has committed to $1.35 million in annual funding for the unit. The Royal University Hospital (RUH) Foundation will fundraise the $1.2 million for the cost of capital and equipment.

“Many people with epilepsy are able to control seizures with medication,” the Saskatchewan Health Authority said in a press release.

“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 unit will monitor electrical activity in a patient’s brain over an extended time to determine if they would benefit from surgery. It will include dedicated epilepsy monitoring equipment and cameras, allowing doctors to conduct readings and assessments at the patient’s bedside.

RUH currently offers epilepsy monitoring, but the dedicated unit is expected to improve access to services.

“This telemetry unit is an important tool for our clinical team in helping us diagnose and treat patients with epilepsy and seizure disorders, to alleviate their seizures,” Saskatchewan Health Authority vice president of provincial programs Corey Miller said during a press conference Monday.

“This monitoring system will allow us to determine where their seizure activity is coming from in their brain and allow us to work with our clinical teams to remove that area to help them live with a much higher quality of life.”

Miller added that the dedicated unit will give patients more privacy.

 “Having a dedicated unit keeps those patients with like conditions together and allows them to have this assessment done in a much more dignified way,” he said.

While a location inside RUH has yet to be chosen, Miller said the plan is to locate the dedicated epilepsy unit near the neurology program.

 The RUH Foundation has already begun approaching potential donors. Their goal is to raise $500,000 this year and $700,000 next year to build the dedicated unit.

The Saskatchewan Epilepsy Program, operating out of RUH in Saskatoon, provides care for patients throughout the province.

About 10,500 people in Saskatchewan live with epilepsy. Of those, about 700 are children.

When the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital opens, it will have two beds of its own equipped for pediatric epilepsy telemetry services.

To donate to the telemetry unit, visit ruhf.org.