ROCK SPRINGS — With the future of the hospital in mind, Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County (MHSC) is moving forward with the purchase of a daVinci XI robot for around $2.5 million.
During the MHSC board meeting Wednesday afternoon, the board unanimously approved a 5-year lease for the daVinci XI robot for about $2.54 million. They also approved the purchase of sterilization equipment for the robot for roughly $84,000.
The tentative plan is for the hospital to purchase the robot during the summer with the goal of having it available for use by the end of 2023. After looking at the various purchase and leasing options, the hospital has decided to go with a lease to purchase option,” MHSC CEO Irene Richardson said. The MHSC Foundation has agreed to help cover the cost of the lease and over the next three years the split will be 50/50 for the first year, 60/40 the second year, and 70/30 for the third year with the hospital covering the biggest percentage. The foundation will pay around $580,000 in total, Richardson explained.
“We are leasing instead of purchasing the equipment because it gives us the flexibility to upgrade the equipment if a newer version of the robot is released during our lease period,” MHSC Foundation Executive Director Tiffany Marshall said.
“We want to be the first one to provide that here in Sweetwater County,” Richardson said.
Marshall explained that while there are daVinci robots available in other areas of Wyoming, there are none in southwest Wyoming and the hospital wants to be the first to purchase one.
“This is great because it allows us to continuously provide state-of-the-art procedures with the best equipment in the industry,” Marshall said.
“The Foundation is really supportive of this project and bringing a robotics program to Sweetwater County because it truly is in the best interest of our patients and allows us to recruit top surgeons to our rural area,” Marshall said.
Marshall said having the daVinci robot in Sweetwater County will allow residents to obtain surgeries at home instead of having to travel to other places. A lot of patients who want robot-assisted surgical procedures go to Utah and the hospital is hoping the purchase of the daVinci XI will change that.
Not only will the robot fill a need residents have, but it will help the hospital in its recruitment efforts.
Richardson said the hospital is commonly asked if it has a daVinci robot when recruiting physicians because a lot of them are trained on running the robot. They aren’t interested in when the hospital is getting the robot, but if it has it now. It’s a deciding factor on whether or not a surgeon takes a job at the hospital.
“We’ll be able to recruit better surgeons… Surgeons are less likely to go to places that don’t have a robotics program because that’s how they are being trained,” Marshall said.
According to Marshall, surgeons working in the fields of urology, gynecology, colon and rectal care, and general surgeries, are all being trained on the daVinci robot in residencies and fellowships. The graph below shows the percentage of those currently being trained.
“As technology changes and trends in medicine change, we just want to make sure we stay on the cutting edge and we are providing the best possible care for our community,” Marshall said. “People could definitely be skeptical, but I think if we look at larger health-care systems they all have the robotic’s programs, the all have daVinci robots.”
Some of the benefits to having a robotic assisted surgery is the surgeries are less invasive, recovery time is faster, and there is less pain. Part of this is due to the incision being smaller, less blood loss, and less complications. Another benefit is patients will not need as much pain medication or as long of a hospital stay.
Instead of two surgeon’s hands, there are six on the robot that can use small tools to access various points on the body during a surgery, Marshall explained. The robot also has a 360 camera available for the surgeon see everything needed during the surgery.
The procedures the hospital expects to use with the daVinci for include inguinal hernia, ventral hernia, cholecystectomy, and colon resections, Marshall said. However, this could expand or change.
With the board approving the funding, the hospital can’t wait for the robot to arrive and see how it will change southwest Wyoming.
“This is the way of the future. This is where medicine is progressing and surgeries are progressing,” Marshall said.