Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota Unveils New Neuroscience Unit for Epilepsy and Neurosurgery Patients

Opening represents a milestone in the evolution of Children's neuroscience program

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL, Minn., Nov. 26, 2013 – Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota unveiled a new neuroscience inpatient unit at its St. Paul campus today, representing a major step in the development of Children's neuroscience program. The unit, named the Karen and George Benz Family Pediatric Neuroscience Center, features 26 spacious private rooms that will be dedicated to the care of epilepsy and neurosurgery patients. In the last year alone Children's provided neurological treatment to more than 1,800 patients, performed 455 brain surgeries and cared for 486 children suffering from seizures.

"We treat more children with neurological conditions than any other institution in the region," said Phil Kibort, MD, chief medical officer, Children's. "Over the last decade we've seen a steady increase in traumatic brain injuries, pediatric brain cancers and premature babies with neurological issues. Our goal over the next several years is to continue to expand our neuroscience offerings so we can meet the growing needs of patients with both acute and chronic neurological conditions and do so in ways that few other hospitals can provide."

Children's offers a broad spectrum of neurological-related subspecialists such as pediatric neurosurgeons, pediatric neurologists and epileptologists, pediatric psychologists, neuro-radiologists and geneticists. As the neuroscience program expands it will bring these experts together – at one location – to provide the latest in neurological diagnostic services and treatment, while providing patients with more efficient and convenient care. Located in St. Paul, recent additions to the program include the new epilepsy and neurosurgery inpatient unit, a new neurosurgery suite, concussion clinic, sleep lab expansion and the only neonatal neuro-intensive care unit in the region.

"Children's remains one of the only children's hospitals in the country to provide advanced brain mapping for patients with epilepsy and brain tumors and we are home to one of the largest pediatric epilepsy center in the U.S.," said Michael Frost, MD, medical director of epilepsy and neurology at Children's, and president of the Minnesota Epilepsy Group. "The opening of this unit marks a new era for the hospital."

The spacious unit allows parents to stay with their children in private rooms, provides 24-hour epilepsy monitoring, includes a play area where children can be monitored with video electroencephalography (vEEG) technology, and a variety of conveniences that make it more comfortable for children and their families.

"We're making significant advancements through the use of innovative technology and procedures," said Joseph Petronio, MD, neurosurgery medical director, Children's. "The most recent example is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that uses heat and MRI guided imaging to treat brain tumors and epilepsy. The technology helps minimize pain and speeds recovery, with patients usually discharged within 24 hours."

The unit's name recognizes a $3 million lead philanthropic gift from longtime St. Paul-area residents George and Karen Benz who now live in Arizona.

Key facts about the neurological needs of children:
• Emergency department visits for sports and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries, including concussions, increased 60 percent among children and adolescents in the last decade.

• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 3.8 million sports-related concussions occur each year in the U.S. and as many as 40 percent of youth athletes who sustain a concussion return to play sooner than they should.

• Brain tumors are the second most common form of cancer in children and are the leading cause of cancer death in children under age 20.

• One out of every eight babies in the U.S. is born prematurely — a rate that has steadily increased in the past decade. Babies born at the limits of viability, who survive, often have neurological impairments, including cerebral palsy, cognitive delays, visual impairments and hearing impairments.

About Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota
Serving as Minnesota's children's hospital since 1924, Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota is one of the largest pediatric health care organizations in the United States, with 381 staffed beds at its two hospitals in St. Paul and Minneapolis. An independent, not-for-profit health care system, Children's of Minnesota provides care through more than 12,000 inpatient visits and more than 300,000 emergency room and other outpatient clinic visits every year. Children's is the only Minnesota hospital system to provide comprehensive care exclusively to children. Please visit