Newton Medical Center could soon be getting a $1.75 million da Vinci Si Robotic Surgery System and that could mean safer, quicker surgeries and shorter recovery times as well as less money spent by patients.
The Georgia Department of Community Health issued a certificate-of-need for the da Vinci system to NMC on March 16; this certificate is required for all hospital purchases of more than $1 million. Devices like CT and MRI scanners also require these certificates.
The certificate does not mean the state will provide any financial assistance; NMC will have to pay the entire $1.75 million, said Everette Jenkins, a certificate-of-need consultant for NMC.
NMC’s Chief Financial Officer Troy Brooks said his hospital is considering purchasing the robotically-assisted surgery system because it makes many surgeries less invasive and safer. Surgeons perform the procedures but the robotic system provides several advantages.
Minimally invasive surgery refers to surgery performed through dime-sized, 1 cm to 2 cm, incisions. This is in contrast to the much larger incisions used in traditional, open surgery, which are often as large as 6 inches to 12 inches long. The smaller incisions used in minimally invasive surgeries typically enable shorter recovery times and result in less pain, less blood loss, fewer transfusions, fewer infections and reduced hospitalization costs, according to Intuitive Surgical’s Web site, the company that makes the da Vinci system.
However, the smaller incisions have traditionally only been used for simple procedures because the smaller incisions don’t allow the dexterity and flexibility needed for more complex operations — the da Vinci system seeks to improve this.
“Some of the major benefits experienced by surgeons using the da Vinci Surgical System over traditional approaches have been greater surgical precision, increased range of motion, improved dexterity, enhanced visualization and improved access,” the Web site said.
Brooks said NMC is likely to buy the system, but a purchase is not guaranteed. The staff and hospital board of directors both must agree that the purchase is needed now. The hospital would also have to decide how to finance the purchase. Brooks said the certificate-of-need is good for one year, but he expects NMC to make a decision well before then.
The da Vinci system has historically been used mainly for urological procedures, but gynecological procedures are becoming much more common.
“Gynecological cases are the majority of what’s being done now and that would be the case here as well,” Brooks said.
The device has advanced to the point where intense open heart surgeries are now being done, but Brooks said NMC has no invasive cardiologists; most of those procedures are done in Atlanta.
Currently, 21 hospitals in Georgia have had certificates-of-need approved; most of them in Metro Atlanta. Brooks said getting a da Vinci system could give NMC a leg up in the immediate future. Walton County’s hospital has not applied for a system, but the Rockdale Medical Center recently applied for a certificate-of-need.
“We could be first to market the system (in the area), but that would be very short lived, depending on when the other places pull the trigger on purchasing their systems,” Brooks said. “The purchase would put us ahead momentarily and then keep us on par.”