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Friday, April 16, 2021

UF Health Jacksonville is launching an epilepsy wellness center to help patients with issues such as memory loss, stress management and general clinical care.

Dr. Ramon Bautista, associate chair of neurology at UF Health Jacksonville, said the department started the initiative about a decade ago and has focused on researching specific issues faced by a “neglected population” over the years.

“Starting something like this is going to help them improve their quality of life and be able to go about their daily lives knowing that someone is looking out for them,” Bautista said.

Julianne May, a 26-year-old Gainesville resident who was diagnosed with epilepsy at 16, thinks the center will be a great step in educating and providing support for people with epilepsy.

“Being that people with epilepsy are more susceptible to anxiety and depression, it becomes a toxic situation,” May said. “But if you’re going to a wellness center that focuses on your mental health and needs then you can avoid that toxic situation.”

The center has a starting fund of about $150,000 and is funded by several foundations such as Florida Blue Foundation, Jessie Ball duPont Fund, Riverside Hospital Foundation and the dean’s office at the UF College of Medicine - Jacksonville.

Bautista said he hopes the department will help with other challenges epilepsy patients face in the future such as sleep issues and employment. He also wants to provide more resources for caretakers.

Patients will be enrolled in courses at the beginning of June.

“The plan is to grow this and not just be content with offering services for a couple of years or so,” said Bautista. “But to try to be better and streamline the services and make it more tuned to the needs of our patients.”

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