USC Urology Center of Robotic Surgery at Tulare Regional Medical Center 12/07/2012 First robotic surgery performed at TRMC
By Julie Fernandez
Tulare - A 51-year-old man became the first patient Friday to undergo robotic surgery at Tulare Regional Medical Center, which has forged a partnership with urology surgeons from the University of Southern California who have extensive experience working with the state-of-the-art da Vinci surgical equipment.
The patient underwent a prostatectomy, which Dr. Inderbir S. Gill, a world-renowned surgeon who is professor and chairman of the USC Institute of Urology, described as the first catheter-free prostatectomy performed in the San Joaquin Valley. Gill said a patient would normally have a catheter in his penis for seven to 10 days following this type of surgery.
“Even in LA there are no teams doing it,” Gill said. “We're confident this patient is going to be competent, potent and cancer-free.”
Gill appeared as excited about coming to Tulare as hospital administrators and medical personnel are about hosting the USC team, which has performed more than 7,000 major urological surgeries.
“I really have little doubt ... there are going to be exciting days ahead for TRMC,” Gill said at a press conference following the surgery.
Asked how many robotic surgeries he and team members Drs. Monish Aron and Mihir Desai expect to perform a year, Gill said: “The sky's the limit.”
For starters, the group plans to come to Tulare one day a week, Gill said, emphasizing that they will not be competing with local urologists but working with them.
“We are not interested in bread and butter urology,” he said.
Gill said he recognized during the first five or six minutes that he spoke with TRMC representatives that this would be a good match. “The vision, the enthusiasm and commitment to excellence at TRMC mirrors our own,” he said.
“This is as good as it can get,” said Dr. Virinder Bhardwaj, a local urologist who moved to Tulare County from Michigan 15 months ago and has an office in Porterville and is credentialed to practice at TRMC.
Bhardwaj and Gill come from the same place in northern India and he was close to Gill's parents, particularly his father, who was a professor of surgery and his teacher, Bhardwaj said, adding he had the opportunity see Gill work at the Cleveland Clinic and was very impressed.
Dr. Lonnie Smith, president and chairman of the Tulare Local HealthCare District board, which oversees TRMC, said the presence of the USC team “brings us closer to the hospital's vision of being the leader and preferred healthcare giver in the region.”
Dr. Parmod Kumar, a long-time hospital board member, was moved to tears by the occasion. “God has smiled on us today,” he said. “He has blessed us with a guardian angel in the presence of Dr. Gill.”
Kumar said he has no doubt that Tulare Regional's future planning, which includes the new medical tower under construction, played a role in convincing Gill and his team to partner with the hospital.
After the press conference, Gill took a few moments to explain why robotic surgery is good for patients.
Instead of making large cuts on patients, which causes more bleeding, doctors guiding the robot can make three or four keyhole incisions and insert instruments with tiny tips inside the body.
“There's less blood lost, less pain, shorter hospital stays and quicker recovery,” Gill said, explaining that the pain and trauma from major surgery comes from the entry into the body. “We had to hurt people to help them,” he said.
The da Vinci equipment can be used for other types of surgeries in the future. The hospital is leasing the system for about $40,000 a month and it is expected to pay out about $2 million by time it is purchased, Chief Financial Officer Fred Capozello said.
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November 10, 2011