A look at Brookings Health System’s new $1.5 million surgical robot

Local News

BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) — Brookings Health System recently upgraded to new robotic surgical technology, and its first surgery was performed a little over a week ago.

Brookings Health invested in a previous model of a surgical robot in 2013; the system says they then became the third hospital in South Dakota to offer robotic surgical technology. This new investment totals $1.5 million.

“Surgeons that are in training are using these instruments and this technology. In order to be competitive to recruit great surgeons, you got to have and deploy some of this technology in your facilities, and that’s really allowed us to overall boost our revenue from a surgical standpoint,” Brookings Health System president & CEO Jason Merkley said.

They installed the da Vinci XI on October 20. Two surgeries have been performed with it since then with more planned.

“We’re able to do a lot of wristed movements inside the abdomen, and so it’s like you have your hands inside the abdomen doing tiny little surgery, where before if you wanted to have your hands in the abdomen, you had to make a large incision to do that,” general surgeon Theresa Oey said.

The new robot can perform colon surgery, gastrointestinal surgery, acid reflux surgery and more. A surgeon operates the robot using a console with hand controls.

“A lot of times a robotic surgery is a lot less painful for them, because with laparoscopic surgery we just have the ability to open and close and turn the instruments, where with the robotic instruments, we’re able to do everything a wrist can do and so there’s a lot less torquing on the abdomen, and people are in much less pain after surgery,” Oey said.

Merkley says providing robotic surgery is important for rural health care.

“We always strive to do the things we can do and do very well close to home, right. So we try to do that here within our community. Obviously providing robotic surgery is fantastic for those folks that live within the region that we serve,” he said.

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