Events & News


Seizure star: In this issue, Sonya Capers, NEREG manager has been nominated by the family of one of our patients.

Seizure Star: Last month, a call was put out to all those who receive the weekly Northeast Regional Epilepsy Group email for our next Seizure Star nomination.  An email came in nominating our New York office manager, Sonya Capers making a powerful case for why she should be our new seizure star (read below).  Sonya cried when she was informed that she had been selected as our September Seizure Star.  

Nomination: "I would like to nominate Sonya from the Northeast Regional Epilepsy Group White Plains New York Office for the Epilepsy Star in the next newsletter. Sonya works behind the scenes and makes a big difference in the lives of those with epilepsy and their families. For example, in our family Sonya recognized the financial hardship we faced when paying for our daughter's seizure medicine. Sonya proactively suggested that we enroll in the pharmaceutical company's patient assistance program. She also assisted us with the enrollment process and is always there to help us when it is time to re-enroll. Sonya's help has relieved us of one of the major stresses to a family dealing with epilepsy."

Sonya, tell us about yourself? Where are you from, your family, anything that we might not know about you.

I am from Harlem, New York. My family came to New York City in the early 1970's from the South. I have two beautiful girls and amazing husband. 

Tell us about your work at the Northeast Regional Epilepsy Group (how long have you worked here, how has your position changed over the years). How was working during the COVID-19 lockdown?

I have worked with NEREG for 12 years! I started off as a "temp" after the birth of our first daughter. After two months, I was offered to stay on as a full-time secretary. Of course, I accepted the position. Over the years my role has changed on many levels. One day, the general manager for the practice and my direct manager at the time got into a terrible car accident. The next day, I was asked if I wanted to take on her role temporarily and I accepted because I like new challenges. The job was demanding because it involved managing the entire practice in two different states.  When she returned, I then transitioned into being a support staff for the nurses and later was promoted, becoming a Manager for the Psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES) Program and a New York State manager for the Northeast Regional Epilepsy Group.  That was my life until suddenly Covid-19 hit and the practice had to almost completely lock down (like almost everyone else).

During the COVID-19 lockdown, it was an adjustment, but I like challenges. I transitioned my work from the office to my home overnight.  We had to reschedule hundreds of appointments, had to teach patients how to use telemedicine, had to postpone surgeries and other services.  We had to transmit calmness and stay level-headed even while we were also having to adjust to all the changes.  My husband was extremely supportive and would not allow our children to bother me during work hours and because of that, I was able to get work done. A big difference that I noticed is that because I was not seeing patients face-to-face in the office, it was a bit harder to effectively communicate with patients. It's best to see people in person so you can get a good sense of what's needed but we have all had to adjust to the new circumstances. 

What have you learned about epilepsy and seizures since you began working at NEREG?

I have learned it takes a lot of patience and understanding of needs and that there are certain needs that are unique to epilepsy. I was once told by one of my mentors (Dr. Lancman) on the elevator when I was still a "temp" to listen very well to what our patients need. Sometimes for us in an office, it may seem repetitive, but to the patient or their family member it's the first time they are saying it or maybe they said it before but no one has paid attention to them in the past. Ever since we had that conversation, I took that advice to heart and since then, I paid very close attention to the needs of our patients and try to help the best way I can. 

What activities have you participated in beyond the typical workday that supported those living with epilepsy?  

I have participated in several Epilepsy Walks and I was support staff in almost every patient educational conference (Epilepsy and PNES) that we have had prior to Covid-19.  They were usually held on the weekend.  We used to offer several educational conferences every year or sometimes a very large annual conference.  Those were attended by hundreds of patients and family and friends.  It was always nice to see how the audience was eager to learn and really appreciated the events.  I also organize our International Epilepsy Day celebration in our Manhattan office every year.  

What are your plans for the future?

I am not sure just yet what the future may bring so I just take things one day at a time. 

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