Visitors get first-hand look at Valley Regional’s surgical robots

September 16, 2018

With the help of a volunteer and a special light from a robotic arm, nurse Tony Martinez shined a light on the person’s arm to instantly reveal the location of veins below the skin.

The crowd at Valley Regional Medical Center let out a collective “wow” at the technology, which Martinez said helps staff find veins and makes it more efficient to administer IVs. Plus, it provides some relief to people who are scared of needles, he added.

The demonstration was the first stop on operating room tours held Saturday at the hospital. Director of Surgery Trey Colvin said the tours aimed to show community members who may need surgery that the hospital is equipped to help them.

“We know surgery is kind of a scary thing for people, so we wanted to invite them into our house,” he said.

Colvin said Valley Regional Medical Center adds as much technology to its facility as possible. The inclusion of more robotic components had led to smaller incisions during surgery, he said, which means faster recover, less pain and smaller scars for patients. Doctors are even able to perform gallbladder surgery with only an incision to the belly button, he added.

Visitors donned white “bunny suit” coveralls, hair nets and surgical booties to protect the orthopedic, open heart and robotic surgery rooms from outside contamination. They got a look at how surgeons use tiny cameras to aid in knee surgery and use robotic arms to perform bariatric surgery.

Dr. Veronica Guerrero demonstrated how she controls small robotic arms to tie a thread into knots, with a Green Army Man alongside the robotic arms for scale.

Naomi Gonzalez, a surgical technology student at Texas State Technical College, brought her family to take the operating room tour.

“I think it was awesome,” Gonzalez said, adding that she took lessons from the classroom and put them to use on the tour. “I’m trying to be mindful of all the antiseptic techniques. It’s very important to protect that (environment).”

Her husband, Josh Lee, said the tour gave him some perspective on his wife’s future career.

“I had no idea how important this job is,” he said.

Robert Sanchez, director of TSTC’s surgical technology program, said 16 of his students took part in the tour.

“We’ve been practicing in our lab, and I want them to understand what we’re doing is what they’re going to do here, so that’s why we’re so strict,” he said, adding that some of the new students are still a little nervous in the classroom. “If I can expose them to something like this, I hope it helps them.”

Colvin said he hopes young people considering a medical career found inspiration, and that visitors felt they could find quality care at the hospital.

“We want them to feel defiantly that the OR is a very cool space,” he said.


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