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Hospital requests $2 million for surgical robot



A robot could soon be joining the surgery team at Central Peninsula Hospital. On ordinance was introduced at last week’s borough assembly meeting to pay for the $2.25 million piece of equipment called the da Vinci Xi.

The hospital’s chief financial officer, Lance Spindler, told the assembly it will be up to individual doctors if they continue to operate on patients or if they operate the robot that will perform the surgeries.

“There’s no surgeon-shaming that will go on for this. We hope that they will embrace this. It is the state of the art technology, however, we’ll still support them if they feel more comfortable using the existing techniques that they’re using right now. Based upon their own statements, we believe they’ll be eager to embrace this new technology.”

He says a group of surgeons were asking about the hospital purchasing a robotic surgical system a few years ago, administrators wanted to give the technology some time to develop. But a promise to have that technology on hand has been a part of the hospital’s recruitment pitch for the past two years. Spindler says to begin, the system will be used for general surgery, but its capabilities can be expanded.

“There’s another robot, and this robot may also be able to be modified to do orthopedic surgeries. So there’s a lot of opportunity on the upside, as far as being able to use this in a number of different surgeries. Depending upon the number of surgeries that we do, that will impact the payback time.”

He estimates the hospital could make its money back in five years. Similar technology is already in use in hospitals in Anchorage, possibly taking some business away from CPH as the robots promise a less invasive procedure and potentially fewer complications. Spindler says some of the surgical staff have experience with similar technology, but on-site training is a part of the purchase.

“We’ll be bringing their skills up to date. We’ve got (it) side-by-side with a teacher right next to the surgeon to teach them how to do that. We have a simulator that is included in this purchase that allows them to practice offline and use the simulator to improve their skills. We’re hopeful it will be a fairly quick ramp-up time with the surgeons where they’re comfortable to use it.”

A public hearing on the ordinance to approve the purchase is set for October 23rd.


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