Dell Children’s epilepsy program hiring more professionals, expanding

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Photo Credit: Barbra Daly | Daily Texan Staff

The Comprehensive Epilepsy Program at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas is expanding by hiring more professionals and partnering with pediatric epilepsy leaders throughout the state.

The epilepsy center started in 2010 and is the largest clinical program in the UT Health Austin Pediatric Neurosciences department at Dell Children’s, according to the UT Health website. 

“The bridge between Dell Children’s and UT has helped immensely,” said Dave Clarke, Comprehensive Epilepsy Program director. “The clinical team has been much more advanced because of subspecialists who have been acquired through UT. We have social workers who work with the School of Social Studies and other course linkages.”

 

UT Pediatric Neuroscience service line director Jeffrey Titus said the program focuses on the development and refinement of clinical equipment.

“The adoption of innovative healthcare models and surgical treatment options gave the epilepsy program at Dell Children’s a reputation for high-quality care that continues today,” Titus said. “The program quickly achieved national recognition because of its multidisciplinary approach to epilepsy care that prioritized treatment of the whole child.”

The program has its research supported by the Mulva Clinic for the Neurosciences, and the care team consists of more than 20 experts, according to the UT Health website.  

“Through Dr. Clarke’s leadership, we have already initiated plans to partner with pediatric epilepsy leaders throughout the state to create the Texas Epilepsy Network,” Titus said. “This network will allow our epilepsy specialists to consult directly with other pediatric epilepsy centers on a routine basis about difficult cases and standards of care.”

Karen Skjei, associate director of the program, said they are also developing a Pediatric Epilepsy Fellowship.

“The Pediatric Epilepsy Fellowship will be an (Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education)-accredited one-year fellowship that will train the next generation of pediatric epileptologists,” Skjei said. “We will be submitting our application to the ACGME in January and hope to begin with our first fellow in July.”

Clarke said the epilepsy center has had exponential growth since June 2019.

“We are actively recruiting,” Clarke said. “Right now, we have four epileptologists on board, and we are trying to recruit two more by this summer. This is all important because the Institute of Medicine has suggested that only about 22 percent of individuals who need care within a level 4 epilepsy center actually receive that care. We are trying to think outside the box to bridge that 78 percent gap.”