#OnTheMap – Surgery

Dr. Bryant sits behind the electronic controls of the da Vinci Xi® robot (front, right), while his team of surgical technologists, nurses, and anesthesiologist assist at the side of the patient (back, left).

In a seemingly quiet corner of Cheyenne Regional Medical Center there is a bustling Operating Room (OR) that houses the da Vinci Xi®, a state-of-the-art assistive robot that is used for minimally-invasive laparoscopic surgical procedures.

“To the patients, it’s just like laparoscopic surgery with just a few small incisions, but for the physicians, it gives them the reach they simply didn’t have before with laparoscopic instruments,” said Jean Hamann, OR Manager. “The ability of the robotic arm to articulate in every direction and get to spaces they couldn’t get to before without cutting the patient open, is unbelievable,” she said.

The da Vinci Xi® is just one example of the many impressive technological advancements in the field of medicine in the past decade, and it’s changing the way that care is provided to patients. Tana Carpenter, Director of Perioperative Services, noted that a laparoscopic cholecystectomy in the early nineties took nearly eight hours to complete. However, it can now be completed in approximately 45 minutes. Although the da Vinci Xi® does not perform 45-minute surgeries, the OR staff has become faster and more efficient in the procedures that utilize the da Vinci Xi® robotic system.

“We’ve done a lot of work in the OR over the years, and we have very good equipment. The administration is also very good, which is important, in order to make sure we have what we need and that we have access to the top technology,” Carpenter said.

While the da Vinci Xi® and its innovative capabilities contribute to the success of the OR, the passionate staff and providers are the foundation of the surgical unit.

“I’ve been in different operating rooms with different teams, and it feels good that we have a great staff. They’re good at what they do. They work as a team and they get it done. They’re good and they also care,” Carpenter said.

As a whole, the staff notes that the best part of their job is being able to touch people’s lives every day. They know the effect they have on patients, families and friends, and it helps them to see things in a positive light. It’s their mission to provide the best care possible, and to care for our community locally.

“We’re providing a necessary service to the community,” Hamann said. “We do a great variety of surgeries here, so there’s almost nothing that we can’t take care of. We want to keep our patients near their homes and families, and where they’re most comfortable.”

The arms of the da Vinci Xi® robot in-action.

However, there are a limited number of services that the OR at CRMC does not provide. In the event that a patient needs a service not provided here, such as a transplant, the staff is confident in their ability to refer someone for further treatment elsewhere. Once a patient has been referred, she is still connected to the Cheyenne Regional system, so that once her surgery and acute phase is over, she can continue her follow-up treatment locally if she wishes, and resume her life close to home.

One of the challenges the OR has faced is the misconception among some people in the community that think that because we’re a small regional healthcare system, we’re unable to provide the same high-level care seen in larger cities. Carpenter stresses that we can provide equally good, if not better, care here in Cheyenne.

“People choose to leave town to receive care elsewhere for various reasons, but there’s really no need to. We can take great care of them here and I know that we provide just as high a quality of care as any other system in our region,” Carpenter said.

To combat this challenge, many of our surgeons and physicians have visited family practice clinics in the region to build a rapport with potential referring physicians, so they feel more comfortable referring patients here, and not out of town.

“I think sometimes people think that because this is Cheyenne, we can’t be as good as other places. The truth is, we all went to nursing school somewhere and we’re all accredited by the same national organizations. It’s the same with our physicians. They all went to medical school and they all have the same knowledge, research and expertise available to them,” Hamann said. “We’re very good at what we do.”

She also emphasizes that another aspect of what makes CRMC great, is the fact that it is a smaller, community hospital, which adds a special, personal touch to the care that patients receive.

In addition to providing services to patients, the OR is also helping the healthcare industry expand in Cheyenne, by working directly with aspiring surgical technologists from Laramie County Community College.

“The surgical techs rotate through here and learn from us. We get to see them work, we hire a lot of them, and we get to keep them right here in our community,” Carpenter said.

Hiring surgical techs from within the community adds to the focus of building strong local relationships and making patients comfortable–a fact that Hamann is truly proud of.

She reiterated, “Who better to care for you than someone who knows you, or who knows someone close to you?”

(March, 2017)