April 17, 2017

The National Association of Epilepsy Centers (NAEC) has accredited East Texas Medical Center Tyler’s Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) as a Level 3 center for having professional expertise and facilities to provide medical and surgical evaluation and treatment for patients with epilepsy.

“We are so proud to have achieved this accreditation,” said Dr. Gina Jetter, medical director of ETMC’s EMU. “This is a testament to our entire team.”

Only 233 centers are accredited in the U.S., and ETMC’s program is the only one in East Texas.

The EMU is a four-bed unit outfitted with video cameras and diagnostic devices, where patients check in for a stay of 72 to 96 hours. Observing a video record of a seizure and simultaneous electroencephalogram (EEG) readings gives the doctor a much better understanding of the patient’s condition.

Dr. Jetter is a fellowship-trained epileptologist with board certifications in neurology, clinical neurophysiology and epilepsy. She is a physician with Northeast Texas Neurology Associates and is a member of the ETMC Neurological Institute.

Dr. Jetter said the EMU enables her to make a diagnosis of epilepsy or similar ailments, and determine the source of the patient’s seizures with the aim of providing effective treatment.

“We create a very safe environment because we want people to have seizures,” Dr. Jetter said. “We have specially trained nurses and EEG technicians who watch on cameras 24 hours a day, so when the patients do have seizures, they don’t hurt themselves.”

In the safety of the EMU, seizures will be induced, she said: “If they’re on medications we’ll stop them, and most patients with epilepsy will start having seizures within 36 to 48 hours after that.” Technicians also may prompt seizures by sleep deprivation, hyperventilation, exposure to flashing lights or exercise.

Patients will be protected by specially trained nurses and technicians, who follow careful protocols and are assisted by round-the-clock video and EEG surveillance.

Dr. Jetter partnered with Nicholas Andrade, MD, a neurosurgeon with Tyler Neurosurgical Associates, whom she praised as an “epilepsy champion,” to advocate for the EMU at ETMC Tyler. Dr. Andrade performs surgeries that are recommended as a result of the EMU.