U.V. Health’s epilepsy clinic in southwestern Virginia was recently awarded a $500,000 grant from the United States Guenan Foundation Fund research, development and expansion. This grant focuses on training clinic fellows, encouraging them to lead research initiatives and become more involved in the clinic community.
Established in rural towns such as Taswell, Abingdon and Wise, the clinic has provided patient care to underserved populations for nearly 50 years. Nathan Fountain, the attending physician who has been with the clinic for nearly 30 years, said the grant he received would go a long way toward increasing the clinic’s influence.
“The grant is intended to fund research and development by epilepsy fellows and, as a result, increase their ability to see patients in rural southwest Virginia,” Fountain said. Part is conducting clinical trials of new drugs, devices and treatments for epilepsy, part of which is investigating the impact and epidemiology of epilepsy affecting southwestern Virginia. .”
epilepsy, a brain disorder that causes seizures, Affect There are 3.4 million people in the United States, about 500,000 of whom are children.in Virginia 1 person, with 80,000 residents with epilepsy. In many cases, the disease can be debilitating and requires medical attention, so epilepsy clinics (where specialists have more extensive expertise in the condition) play an important role. can do.
“We know that seeing a specialist improves care and outcomes,” says Fountain. “We have access to special diagnostic tools and certain kinds of treatments that others don’t. But in many areas, there are no neurologists at all. [those patients] No access to specialized neurological care of any kind. ”
Patients in rural areas of the state often cannot access this treatment, so U.Va. Health is leading the change. Founded in the 1970s, the clinic has served thousands of patients, both adults and children, over the decades. The clinic is an extension of the University’s Department of Neurology and is classified as a Level 4 epilepsy center. In short, we provide the highest and most comprehensive level of care as specified by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers and the U.S. Department of Health. This makes Virginia particularly unique in offering a wide range of epilepsy care to its residents.
“There are only a few locations in the country where large tertiary care centers, large epilepsy centers can be expanded to rural areas,” says Fountain. “That means in Virginia, almost everyone has a high-level epileptologist within 100 miles of him.”
Another primary care physician at the clinic, Mark Quigg, said that the comprehensive rural health care provided by U.Va is an outreach clinic that extends services beyond centralized campuses, health neurology such as other health programs. It is an innovative and effective model that can be implemented in This grant will ensure the success of the Virginia-based program and hopes for eventual nationwide expansion.
“Our commitment is very unique, and there are not many programs that have such a length and breadth of investment in outreach clinics,” said Quigg. “In general, outreach clinics should be considered more when discussing public health.”
In addition, research, for which grants are also greatly expanded, is one of the key aspects driving the impact of local clinics.
“We are an academic epilepsy center,” says Quigg. “We are doing research on epilepsy medications, surgical treatments, its epidemiology, or the characteristics of large groups of people with epilepsy. increase.”
Clinics not only provide patient care, but also serve as bridges between communities, providing opportunities for teaching and learning.
“[The clinics] It is unique as an educational experience as it can give you the experience of training physicians away from a major university [to provide] We need to provide direct care to rural populations in a culturally sensitive way,” Fountain said.
Since its inception, doctors, fellows, residents and nurses have appreciated the experience the clinic provides. According to both Quigg and Fountain, the opportunity clinics offer to directly impact a close-knit patient community is extremely valuable to the medical community.
The clinic also raises awareness of the disease in areas where the population has less access to informational resources on epilepsy. This effort will be bolstered by grants. Her fourth-year college student Liya Tadesse, a volunteer with the Epilepsy Foundation of Virginia, believes this awareness and treatment is important for epilepsy education.
“A lot of people don’t know what epilepsy and seizures look like,” Tadesse said. “We want to… raise more awareness so people know what to do.”
For decades, clinics have provided specialized medical care to historically underserved communities. A recently awarded grant will allow the clinic to continue and expand these efforts.
“I want to express my gratitude. [the Genan Foundation’s] Please support our efforts in epilepsy programs,” said Fountain. “The end result of the grant is to improve the way people with epilepsy are cared for.