Neurological Services in the Valley



Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingen is well known as the go-to hospital for all neurology and stroke needs in the area, but new updates boost the facility’s value to its community.

The hospital is set to open its brand new, 14-bed Neuro Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and the area’s first Epilepsy Monitoring Unit.

“We’ve watched our program grow exponentially over the past several years, in large part due to the dedication, commitment, and expertise of the Valley Baptist Neuroscience Institute providers,” said Jennifer Bartnesky-Smith, the hospital’s chief strategy officer. “Because of this, we quickly recognized the need for expanded access and critical care space to accommodate the increased community demand.”

Over two years ago, the hospital began planning to move and expand the existing NICU and to add the area’s first Epilepsy Monitoring Unit. Construction has been ongoing for some time; however, in March 2022, the hospital will open its brand new state-of-the-art NICU which will include new equipment, new medical technology and an additional fourteen ICU beds to accommodate the community’s neuro critical care needs. However, the new NICU  offers more than just ambiance.

According to Dr. Ameer Hassan, the hospital’s neurosciences medical director, the clinical experts at the Valley Baptist Neuroscience Institute “offer extensive diagnostic and treatment services in neurological diseases, spinal surgeries, stroke and stroke warning signs, endovascular neurology, epilepsy, headaches, brain injuries, and more.” This new unit is dedicated to providing the very best care to all patients with critical neurological conditions.

Nationally recognized, Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingen has its sights set on providing the best and most advanced neurological services in the Rio Grande Valley. Serving Cameron County and beyond for nearly 100 years, the hospital is also home to the first Comprehensive Stroke Center in the Rio Grande Valley, offering experience in the treatment of critical neurological conditions that is second to none in the region.

Ongoing research and clinical trials at Valley Baptist’s Neuroscience Institute have touched lives worldwide. The research conducted by an experienced staff of neurological researchers has advanced treatment for patients and changed the standard of care in stroke treatment, increasing the window of time for stroke intervention. This has significantly improved patient outcomes across the globe.

“The Valley Baptist Neuroscience Institute and Research Program are both testaments to our hospital’s commitment to improving the standard of care for all neurological conditions and developing new treatment plans to restore the quality of health and life to the people we serve,” Hassan said.

The hospital’s Epilepsy Monitoring Unit, the first of its kind in the region, specializes in diagnosing, monitoring, and treating people with epilepsy. According to the Epilepsy Foundation of America, epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological issue, impacting an estimated 2.2 million people. Around 150,000 are newly diagnosed each year.

“The Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) is specifically designed for patients with seizures,” said Archie Drake, chief operating officer for Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingen. “When admitted to the EMU, patients will undergo a series of tests to characterize their ongoing seizure spells and to guide individual treatment options. Patients will undergo video EEG monitoring while in the EMU, which will allow our medical specialists to record the patient brain waves before, during, and after a seizure with the EEG.”

This is an important step to keep local patients in the area while receiving quality care.

“This is particularly exciting for our community, noting that patients requiring this type of epilepsy monitoring service are currently required to travel outside the Valley for this level of care,” Bartnesky-Smith said. “We are extremely proud and excited to be offering this service to our community in coordination with the epileptologists on our medical staff.”

With these two new additions, the Valley Baptist Neurosciences Institute continues to raise the standard of health care in the Rio Grande Valley. Interested in learning more? Scan the QR code for more information.

Katie Goodman