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Geisinger becomes the first member of Risant Health

$1.7M unit enhances capability to diagnose, treat patients

SCRANTON, Pa. – To accommodate the growing population of epilepsy patients in the area and help meet the needs of the community, Geisinger Community Medical Center (GCMC) is opening a newly renovated and expanded adult epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU) and medical-surgical unit. 

GCMC is the only hospital in the region to offer an adult inpatient EMU. Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre maintains a two-bed pediatric EMU and Geisinger Medical Center in Danville has a six-bed adult and four-bed pediatric EMU.

Dedicated to diagnosing and treating patients with seizure disorders, the $1.7 million EMU includes six private epilepsy monitoring rooms, as well as four medical-surgical rooms spread out over a revamped 4,800-square-foot space. GCMC’s original EMU opened with two beds in 2012.

“There are approximately 14,000 people living with epilepsy right here in Northeast Pennsylvania,” said Anthony Aquilina, D.O., regional president for Geisinger Northeast. “We’ve expanded our epilepsy monitoring unit to help patients in our community who have complex neurological conditions, such as epilepsy or seizure disorders, remain close to home for high-level care they previously needed to travel for.”

Patients who experience seizures which are challenging to diagnose and manage are those most likely to be admitted to the EMU. Patients who may need surgery as a treatment for their seizures may also be admitted for better monitoring to identify seizure-causing areas in the brain.

“Having a dedicated EMU allows us to monitor patients experiencing seizures at the safest, most acute level - 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Abuhuziefa Abubakr, M.D., director of epilepsy for Geisinger. “This enables us to closely observe what is occurring in the brain and determine whether the seizures are epileptic or nonepileptic, and identify the seizure-causing areas in the brain.” 

GCMC’s unit is staffed by specially trained physicians, nurses and technologists who monitor patients 24/7. Each private room in the six-bed EMU has a high-definition video camera with infrared capabilities and a microphone, and special equipment that records patients’ brain waves along with changes in behavior. This in-depth monitoring enables physicians to create a treatment plan specialized for each patient. 

Patients stay in the EMU averages four to eight days.

GCMC’s EMU will be staffed by several neurologists who specialize in epilepsy care, including Dr. Abubakr and epileptologist Paul McCabe, M.D. The unit also includes a nurse navigator, a health care professional trained in epilepsy care who assists patients during their stay and helps coordinate their care; a physician’s assistant; specially trained nursing staff; neurophysiology assistants, specially trained to monitor patients around the clock; and certified video-electroencephalogram (EEG) technologists. 

The EMU will begin seeing patients on June 11.

GCMC’s EMU is one of many projects the hospital has underway to improve patient experience, enhance access to care and introduce the latest technology. Other updates include: 

  • A $15 million maternity center set to open in early 2020, which will feature seven delivery rooms 
  • A $3.9 million cardiovascular expansion to streamline heart and vascular services
  • A $3.2 million orthopaedic investment that includes physical site renovation, expanded services and technology/equipment upgrades
  • A Mamava nursing suite which allows hospital visitors and employees a private space to breastfeed


Ribbon cutting ceremony at GCMC epilepsy monitoring unit.
Leaders cut the ribbon opening the expanded epilepsy monitoring unit at Geisinger Community Medical Center.
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