Pediatric Neurology Program Expansion

Laura Jansen, MD, PhD, is one of the new members of UVA's pediatric neurology team

The pediatric neurology program at UVA Health System has a long history of excellence, with some of the most renowned leaders in the field making up its past and present faculty, including Fritz E. Dreifuss, MD; James Q. Miller, MD; and Robert S. Rust, MD. Today, the pediatric neurology program continues its commitment to quality care and innovative treatments, expanding to meet the high demand from across the Commonwealth. “Our Division is fortunate to have had the support to add several new faculty members over the past two years, with plans to add two more by July 2014,” says Howard Goodkin, MD, PhD, director of the UVA Health System Division of Pediatric Neurology.

The addition of faculty means that access is improved and more patients are seen, Goodkin says. It also means that UVA has the expertise on hand to treat a broader range of conditions, including lysosomal storage diseases, brain malformations, pediatric epilepsy and more. “Because these physicians have different research interests and areas of expertise, we are in a better position to address the specific problem for which the child was referred,” adds neurologist Laura Jansen, MD, PhD.

Jansen is one of the pediatric neurologists bringing new perspective to this well-established program. With a clinical and research interest in neurogenetic diseases and brain malformations, she is currently involved in launching a fetal neurology program within the area of maternal-fetal medicine, and is now accepting referrals. This program will provide expectant parents with a resource from the beginning, should their baby be at risk for congenital brain malformation or other neurological disease.

Another new addition to the team, Russell Bailey, MD, completed his pediatric, neurology and epilepsy training at UVA and returned here this spring as part of the pediatric neurology team. His primary focus has been working to establish an inpatient pediatric epilepsy monitoring unit within the UVA Children’s Hospital. Outfitted with the most advanced monitoring technology available, this dedicated pediatric epilepsy unit will help neurologists better understand the nature of the spells children are having, more accurately diagnose their type of epilepsy and treat their seizures more appropriately.

“Pediatric patients with epilepsy have unique needs,” says Bailey. “Being cared for on our adult unit, children received exceptional epilepsy care before, but now we can offer that level of advanced care in a child-friendly environment with pediatric nurses, therapists, teachers and others who have the special skills required to care for children.”

As the needs of pediatric neurology patients continue to rise and change, UVA is well equipped to respond quickly and effectively, collaborating with referring physicians to ensure every patient receives the individualized care he or she requires. “The tremendous growth of our program improves accessibility first and foremost,” says Bailey. “But one of our greatest strengths is that we have physicians with different interests providing a high level of care within a broad spectrum of diseases and disorders. This expands the patient population and complexity of conditions we can treat.”