Here at Home: Innovative Surgical Care Debuts at Cooley Dickinson Hospital
By opening its Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery Program at the Kittredge Surgery Center, Cooley Dickinson joined only 10 percent of hospitals nationwide that offer the da Vinci(r) S Surgical System. The da Vinci S provides surgeons with an alternative to open surgeries and conventional laparoscopy, and enables them to perform the most complex and delicate procedures with precision through much smaller incisions.
Cooley Dickinson's urologists, general surgeons and orthopedic surgeons are incorporating the minimally invasive surgical approach to the benefit of patients, who recover more quickly and have less scarring. Here are two patients' stories.
Stanley Lech is lucky his wife, Nancy, gives him a little push now and then. And both Stanley and Nancy feel lucky that Cooley Dickinson has opened its Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery Program and now offers the da Vinci S Surgical System.
Since Stanley hadn't had a physical in 15 years, Nancy made an appointment for him in the spring to see his primary care physician, Dr. Timothy Parsons. In a routine examination, Dr. Parsons found a nodule on Stanley's prostate and referred him to the Urology Group of Western New England. A subsequent biopsy revealed the nodule was cancerous. Stanley's urologist, Dr. Donald Sonn, a board-certified surgeon, recommended surgery and told Stanley that robotic surgery could be done at Cooley Dickinson.
"Robotic surgery has truly revolutionized our field," Dr. Sonn says, adding that when compared to open procedures, the patients undergoing robot-assisted surgery see numerous benefits including a shorter hospital stay, less pain, less scarring, less blood loss, faster recovery and a quicker return to normal function and activities. We are also able to more accurately visualize the neurovascular bundles, which could translate into better results in terms of erectile dysfunction," Sonn states.
Knowing the da Vinci surgery could be done at Cooley Dickinson set Stanley's and Nancy's minds at ease, since Cooley Dickinson has been the family's community hospital for more than 30 years, and Nancy works as a nurse in the Childbirth Center.
Stanley says he talked to other men about the surgery. After speaking to Dr. Sonn, he felt reassured and ready. "I felt a chemistry with Dr. Sonn," says Stanley, of Southampton. "We just clicked. It's almost like we'd been friends for years."
The surgery was July 23, 2007 a Monday, at 1:30 p.m. Stanley says he was up and walking the hospital corridors the same day. He was discharged on Thursday morning.
Seven weeks later, Stanley was back on duty at Callaway Golf in Chicopee, where his job as a pipe fitter requires him to push a 700-pound toolbox around a half-mile-long plant.
Says Stanley of the surgical experience, "It was state-of-the-art. I figured if I was going to have the surgery, I'd like to have the best, and I believe I did."
Steve Bombard has been an avid cyclist for more than 16 years. He worried that a knee replacement at age 52 would take him off the road for a long time.
Dr. Joseph Lellman, an orthopedist and a fellow cyclist, however, assured Steve he'd be cycling again soon after the surgery - and for much longer than he'd be able to keep riding his bike if he didn't have the knee replaced.
Dr. Lellman had taken a close look at Steve's knee after Steve tore his meniscus and discovered that the joint had been deteriorating for some time. "He told me, 'If you want to keep riding, this is what you need to do,' " Steve recalls.
So Steve took the doctor's advice. In February of 2007 Dr. Lellman performed a new, minimally invasive knee replacement procedure at Cooley Dickinson Hospital.
The incision was small, leaving almost no scar on Steve's knee, and the recovery time was quick. Steve was getting around on crutches the day after surgery. He went home the next day.
A month later, Steve rode a mile on his bike. Now, he's back to commuting by bicycle daily from his home in Haydenville to his job in Northampton. He's done a 65- mmile ride around the Quabbin Reservoir.
"I never thought I'd need to have a knee replacement," Steve says. "Now I'm just glad to be riding again. You can't smell the flowers from a car."