Brain Power — Nurses Play Integral Role in West Chester’s Advancing Neurology Services

Apr. 30, 2018

Epilepsy Monitoring Unit opens at West Chester Hospital, advancing neurological care in the region.

Epilepsy Monitoring Unit

By Elizabeth Beilman

Patients who experience life-altering seizures or other neurological events can now receive answers at West Chester Hospital’s new Epilepsy Monitoring Unit.

The inpatient unit uses continuous video monitoring and electroencephalogram (EEG) over a four-day stay to evaluate a patient’s brain activity, and identify and ultimately treat the underlying condition.

“This is something that is affecting peoples’ lives sometimes every day, so it’s definitely a big need for the community,” said Karen Daniel, RN, clinical manager of the Intensive Care Unit at West Chester Hospital.

Because clinicians need to analyze EEG waves during an epileptic episode, nurses work closely with patients to trigger a seizure in  a safe and controlled environment.

The unit helps patients identify whether their seizures are the result of epilepsy or another condition.

Regardless of the diagnosis, nurses exhibit empathy and cultivate trust with patients, many of whom need emotional support and understanding as they navigate challenging conditions.

“The role of nurses on the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit is partly to help patients feel encouraged and validated,” said Kate Welling, RN, a charge nurse who works on the EMU.


The Joint Commission now recognizes West Chester Hospital as a Primary Stroke Center, a designation that includes the entity’s  Gold Seal of Approval® for Advanced Certification for Primary Stroke Centers.

The distinction resulted from a rigorous on-site visit in the fall that measured the organization against more than 100 standards for stroke care.

“I think being able to establish ourselves as a Primary Stroke Center really gives patients in our community confidence that we exceed minimum standards in treating and caring for stroke patients,” said Courtney Smith, BSN, RN, West Chester Hospital Stroke Coordinator. “This lets them see that we have a reliable and recognized program.”

Nurses play a critical role in the recovery of stroke patients by providing rapid, around-the-clock care, through frequent neurological assessments and by closely monitoring patients’ conditions. Nurses on the Core Stroke Staff must complete eight hours of stroke education every year to maintain these highly specialized skills.

“In the middle of it all, we’re the eyes and ears of the patients, and we communicate with everyone else on the team to make sure that patients get the care they need,” Smith said.