CRMC to have Robotic Center of Excellence

By Michelle Price
Special to the UCBJ

COOKEVILLE – The Cookeville Regional Medical Center (CRMC) will move forward with plans to become only the second Robotic Center of Excellence in the state of Tennessee. 

Board members voted Thursday evening to move forward with upgrading from the da Vinci Si surgical robot that has seven year old technology to the new da Vinci Xi system at a cost of $2.35 million.

“The main reason why we are doing this is because the Si system will soon be no longer supported. When I mean soon, probably in the next three months,” CRMC CEO Paul Korth explained to the board during the Finance Committee meeting on Tuesday. 

Korth added that there will be no further support from the company. Surgical supplies that are used with this system are no longer being manufactured, and they are very difficult to find. 

“What we have in stock will probably last us through September,” he said.

The new da Vinci Xi robotic system will allow surgeons to perform surgeries that before were open surgeries in a minimally invasive manner. This will decrease the pain patients feel associated with the surgeries and decrease opioid use. 

Other benefits as a result of the addition of the system will include the reduction of blood transfusions, complications, ICU admissions, complications, readmissions and a shortened length of stay.

“The reason why we want to do this is the future, to become a ‘Robotic Center of Excellence.’ Currently there is only one center in the state of Tennessee designated as that, and it’s our goal to become that in the very near future,” said Korth. 

To help establish the Robotic Center of Excellence, CRMC will purchase the da Vinci Xi system, the instrumentation to run it and a surgery table specially designed to work with the system. DaVinci will loan CRMC a DaVinci X system, the system above the Si but below the Xi. They will let CRMC use that for free for nine months and at the end of that time, CRMC can opt to purchase the additional robot at a locked-in price or pay $10,000 to ship it back to the company. 

If CRMC determines that there is enough need for another Xi system, da Vinci has given them a fixed price for that unit also. 

Currently “there’s not enough robot time with just one robot for the amount of surgeons who want to do robotic surgery,” Korth shared.

CRMC is projecting 140 additional procedures within the first 12 months of adding the new robot.  

Local surgeons are very supportive of the robotic system. The new system will enable surgeons to perform a wider range of abdominal procedures including gastric by-pass and gynecological procedures.

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