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Robot-assisted surgeries a boost for Thomas Memorial

By Candace Nelson

CRobot-assisted surgery is paying off for Thomas Memorial Hospital.  

When the da Vinci Si Surgical System hit the hospital three years ago, administrators were concerned about its worth.

But now, 15 doctors work with the robots, and they are in use each day, said Bob Gray, senior vice president of business development of Thomas Health System, in Thursday's Board of Trustees meeting.

About 800 robot-assisted surgeries have been completed since 2010.

Gray said Thomas was one of just 100 hospitals in the country last year that were using technology such as the single-site gallbladder surgery, in which the robot-assisted surgery makes just one quarter-size incision at the belly-button.

"What's amazing about this system is the recovery and the efficiency for doctors and ultimately our patients," Gray said. "It's a lot less tissue damage, a lot less blood loss and a lot quicker recovery time for those patients."

"I remember there was a question about whether it would be fully utilized or expensive," said Steve White, chairman of Thomas Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees.

Gray said in the couple of years the program has been around, it has been used for many applications.

"The general surgeons use it for colon work, urologists use it for prostate, and the biggest application is GYN surgery," Gray said.

"Years ago, women thought that hysterectomies would be along recovery period with an extended hospital stay. . . That's not the case with this system"

In other news:

Administrators discussed Thomas Memorial Hospital's admittance into a health information-sharing network. Thomas joins eight other hospitals in the West Virginia Health Information Network's Health Information Exchange.

The exchange allows participating hospitals to electronically share patient information in a secure manner for treatment and public health reporting purposes.

The hospital announced it would not receive a penalty for readmissions, due to being lower than the national average. A potential penalty could be upwards of $1 million.

Contact writer Candace Nelson at or 304-348-5148. Follow her at


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