CMHS Reaches Robotic Surgery Milestone with Over 2300 Successful Procedures

The future of medicine arrived at Community Memorial Health System (CMHS) more than 14 years ago, and has since ushered in a bold, new era of surgical innovation that changed the medical landscape in Ventura County.

It was late 204 and a dedicated group of physicians, hospital administrators, and members of the CMHS Board of Trustees had spent the better part of a year laying the groundwork to bring a state-of-the-art da Vinci Robotics surgical device to Community Memorial Hospital (CMH) in Ventura.

The arrival of this innovative system at CMH marked the beginning of a whole new frontier in surgery that has now helped over 2,300 patients from communities across Ventura County recover from complicated procedures in days rather than weeks.  CMHS hit this significant milestone in December 2017 as they wrapped up a record year for the robotics program with 358 successful procedures in just 12 short months.  This depth of experience combined with a high-level of continuous training is what sets the CMHS robotics program apart from other hospital in Ventura County and along the Central Coast. Today, Community Memorial Health System handles the largest number of robotic surgery cases between Los Angeles and Monterey – preforming over 350 procedures every year.

The CMHS Robotic Surgery program has – in short – allowed our highly trained team of surgeons to make the impossible possible, and Dr. Marc Beaghler has been leading the charge since the program’s forward-thinking inception 14 years ago.

“The Community Memorial Health System robotics surgery program was the first non-academic program to launch between Los Angeles and San Francisco,” recalls Beaghler, Medical Director of Robotics at CMHS.  Certainly the future of the da Vinci robotics program at CMHS will be enhanced by the opening of the new 350,000 square foot hospital in Ventura.  Beaghler said the design of the hospital’s new state-of-the-art operating rooms will incorporate the da Vinci robot.

“We have the most dynamic, diverse, and experienced robotic surgeons in the county,” said Beaghler.  “When the new hospital opens, we’ll have a facility that matches the caliber of our talented surgical staff.”

Today, a variety of OB/GYN, General Surgery, and Urology procedures are performed using the “da Vinci” surgical system.

The da Vinci device, made by the Northern California-based Intuitive Surgical, is a three-armed robot which allows surgeons to perform amazingly precise surgeries with very small incisions.  The pinpoint incisions don’t require as much recovery time as larger incisions – a procedure doctors commonly refer to as “keyhole surgery.”

“The minimally invasive nature of robotic surgery means that patients have less pain following their procedures,” Beaghler said.  “They also experience less blood-loss and scarring, and require much shorter recovery times.”

Two of the da Vinci’s arms can be affixed with interchangeable surgical instruments.  Access to a wide variety of these tools allows surgeons to perform specific tasks during a surgery, such as clamping, suturing, or cutting into tissue.

The third da Vinci arm is equipped with a tiny telescopic video camera, called an endoscope.  It’s worth noting that it was the advancement in video technology – namely 3D imaging – that allowed laparoscopic surgery to become so widely used.  Before 3D imaging, surgeons could not precisely operate the surgical instruments their field of vision was not deep enough for complex and exact procedures.

According to Intuitive Surgical, the design of the da Vinci’s robot arms and instruments allow a range of motion even greater than the human wrist.  “It’s really an extension of our own hands, with greater range of motion and enhanced visualization,” Beaghler said.

With a da Vinci robot, the surgeon sits at a console to watch the 3D video taken by the light-affixed endoscope which is inside the patient’s body during the surgery.  The surgeon controls the surgical tools using an extraordinarily high-tech console that includes a set of extremely precise controllers the surgeon manipulates with his fingers.

Mastering the da Vinci requires extensive training – by both the physicians and the team of highly-skilled nurses and staff who assist in the operating room.  “It’s always a team effort,” Beaghler said.  “We have a team of very experienced nurses and very experienced assistant surgeons that help us in the OR.”

Surgical training on the da Vinci takes six months and includes hundreds of hours of practice -mostly on cadavers- all of which is done under the watchful eye of a panel of doctors who eventually transition their training to oversee operations on real patients.  Beaghler, who served as an attending physician at Loma Linda University Medical Center and was also an associate professor of urology, said learning how to master the da Vinci robot took considerable time and effort.  It’s an advanced training that not all surgeons do.

For more information on the da Vinci Robotic Surgery program at CMHS and the extensive line-up of procedures offered, CLICK HERE.