Central Peninsula Hospital held its annual Community Health Fair on Saturday to offer discounted services and show off a few new pieces of technology, including their latest surgery robot — the Da Vinci Xi.
The event took place from 8 a.m. to noon at the hospital’s River Tower. The discounted blood screenings are always a big draw for the health fair, and CPH Director of External Affairs Bruce Richards said people were lined up at the door at 7:30 in the morning.
“Everyone had fasted the night before in order to get their blood work, so they were hungry too,” said Richards.
The Da Vinci Xi surgery robot also drew a large crowd because visitors were able to try out the machine by unwrapping a Starburst that was strategically placed on the operating table. Kids generally seemed to be more adept at controlling the surgery arms than adults. Richards and others watching chalked it up to their experience with video games.
The machine consists of three separate components, and essentially acts as an extension of the surgeon’s arms. The surgeon sits at a station and controls the four robot arms remotely using his or her thumbs and index fingers to operate each arm individually. The Da Vinci’s arms are positioned above the operating table, and the surgeon is able to see a top-down view of the person — or piece of candy — being operated on. The third component is a monitor that shows the same view that the surgeon is seeing, just on a bigger screen.
It also has a built-in surgery simulator to give surgeons the opportunity to train on the machine before using it on actual patients, as well as an intercom system that allows the surgeon to communicate with the nurses in the operating room.
Sage Davenport, an RN who was one of the first at the hospital trained on the Da Vinci Xi, said the machine is being used for general surgeries including gall bladder removals, appendectomies, and eventually some gynecological and urological procedures. Richards said that The Da Vinci’s first surgery was a successful hernia repair on Feb. 4, and since then it has been used for 45 procedures.
Richards said that the price tag of the Da Vinci Xi was around $2.1 million and is the newest version of the Da Vinci available, which is manufactured by Intuitive Surgical. According to Richards, the hospitals in Juneau and Homer are the only hospitals in the state that do not yet have the technology.
“We’ve known we needed one for a while, but we were waiting for the technology to advance a little bit,” said Richards.
Lisa Michael, director of surgery for the hospital, pointed out the name they had given their surgery robot: Seymore. Employees were able to submit suggestions for the name, and Michael was pleased because Seymore is the name she suggested. “Because it sees more,” explained Michael.
Other medical technology on display included a UV light used to disinfect rooms in the hospital and a Spinal Machine from Precision Chiropractics that allows patients to view detailed biometric data during chiropractic sessions.