Island epilepsy centers earn national reaccreditation

Brain gain: Five Northwell Health specialized epilepsy centers, including three on Long Island, have been reaccredited by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers.

The National Association of Epilepsy Centers has re-upped five Northwell Health epilepsy programs, including three on Long Island.

The Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at Manhasset’s North Shore University Hospital, the Pediatric Epilepsy Center at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park and the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at Lenox Hill Hospital, located in Manhattan, have all earned NAEC Level 4 reaccreditation.

That designation means each center provides complex neuro-diagnostic monitoring, complete evaluations for epilepsy-related surgeries, a broad range of surgical procedures and other medical, neuropsychological and psychosocial services related to epilepsy, a brain disorder that commonly leads to seizures and other disruptive symptoms.

In addition to those Level 4 centers – the highest accreditation offered by the NAEC, based on its own published guidelines – Northwell Health’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at Bay Shore’s Southside Hospital and the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at Staten Island University Hospital, also a Northwell facility, each received Level 3 reaccreditation.

Souhel Najjar: Team effort.

Level 3 centers provide “the basic range of medical, neuropsychological and psychosocial services needed to treat patients with refractory epilepsy,” according to Northwell Health, while some Level 3 centers – including Northwell Health’s centers – offer noninvasive evaluations for epilepsy surgery, certain resective surgical procedures and other treatments, such as the implantation of a vagus nerve stimulator.

While Level 3 centers do not perform intracranial evaluations or other more complex epilepsy-related surgeries, the NAEC designation is still an achievement in the fight against a disorder rated by the Epilepsy Foundation of America as the fourth-most common of all brain ailments, likely to affect one out of every 26 people at some point in their lifetime.

The NAEC is the leading domestic accreditation and support agency for epilepsy-treatment centers. Founded in 1987, the Washington-based nonprofit has accredited more than 230 specialized U.S. epilepsy centers based on its “Guidelines for Essential Services, Personnel, and Facilities in Specialized Epilepsy Centers,” which it first published in 1990 and has updated through the decades.

All told, the NAEC accredits 20 epilepsy centers in New York State and seven on Long Island. In addition to the three Northwell Health Island-based facilities mentioned above – and the previously accredited Hofstra Northwell Comprehensive Epilepsy Center – the association has also green-stamped NYU Winthrop Hospital’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Center in Mineola, Stony Brook Medicine’s Stony Brook Epilepsy Center and the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center of Long Island inside Port Jefferson’s St. Charles Hospital, part of Catholic Health Services of Long Island.

Accreditation on any level means strict adherence to the recognized best practices of epilepsy treatment and access to the most cutting-edge tools – and with five different centers earning NAEC reaccreditation at once, Northwell Health Senior Vice President Souhel Najjar said New York’s largest healthcare network by number of patients and providers was proud of its work in this specialized field.

“It is a testament to our health system’s dedicated, multidisciplinary team of specialized epilepsy doctors, nurses, monitoring technologists, pharmacists, and social workers,” said Najjar, who is also executive director of the New Hyde Park-based health system’s neurology services. “We are honored that our epilepsy programs have received this prestigious NAEC recognition.”

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