Your chance to walk across the Red Line
There is a chance coming up for the general public to do what will soon be forbidden, that is to walk across the Red Line at Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital’s new Surgical Center, the line that stops anyone but qualified personnel from approaching the critical areas of the Operating Room (OR). Not only that, you will have a chance to see what the doctor sees when performing surgery. And what the doctors can see using the new state of the art optical equipment, the doctors themselves find astounding. Head of the surgery department, Dr. James J. Zubernis, known familiarly by most people as Dr. Z, is obviously excited about the new facility.
Dr. Zubernis was quick to credit former Hospital CEO John Bartos with having the understanding that to provide the kind of quality service that the citizens of the valley deserve would require upgrading the hospital’s surgery facility.
“But I don’t think he would have envisioned what we have now,” said Dr. Zubernis, “because it is so far beyond what I thought it would be and I’ve been involved from the very beginning. This is a spectacular operating area.” He said that he has practiced medicine over the last 25 years in large and small hospitals all across the country, “but this is by far the most state of the art facility I’ve seen, by far and away.” He said the hospital staff worked hard in designing the facility not only to make it state of the art for today, but for the next decade.
“We have gone above and beyond our goals,” said Dr. Zubernis. “This is a significant investment in this community. You would have to go to a much larger community in this state to get this kind of service.” He said that he was confident that the investment was going to pay off because it was going to make non-invasive surgeries easier, more efficient and much, much safer, ultimately shortening the time spent on the operating table and subsequently in recovery.
“When you are operating you want to see things,” said Dr. Zubernis. “You want to see every little detail, every little blood vessel, every nerve. Because if you can see everything there, clearly that is the safest way to do any operation.”
“A good analogy is driving in a snow storm. Do you feel comfortable driving in a snowstorm? No. Why? Because you can’t see. This is no different. As I am operating, especially in areas that are sensitive or could be potentially injured, I want to be able to see every pixel of detail in order to do that surgery and this is what this system provides me,” he said.
The optical powers of the new equipment are astounding. As equipment consultant and surgical sales executive for Storz, Rob Craven said, everyone has been in a store and seen the difference in clarity between regular TVs and High Definition TVs. He said the difference between normal and HD TVs was minimal compared to the difference between HD and this surgical equipment which is itself hand wired with fiber optic connections. He said a normal HD picture is composed of 2 million pixels, but on this medical screen we see 8 million pixels. He called it a “quantum leap” in visual information including color saturation.
Dr. Zubernis said that color was something very important to a surgeon. There are certain structures within the human body, he said, that have such fine detail that in order to see such fine detail you have to be able to have not only good image quality, you need to see color. He said there are small differences in shade that identify certain structures.
“If it’s a blood vessel we can tell by texture, color, form,” he said. “It’s an informational process. The more information you have as a surgeon, the more efficient, the safer the procedure is going to be. A lot of that information is visual information. What this system provides is a doubling or tripling of the information that I have to deal with as a surgeon.”
Add a little blue light into the mix and things get even more visible, according to Craven. Patients can receive an injection of a substance an hour before surgery that attaches to cancer cells and stains them so that they fluoresce under a blue light, making them very visible. He said the technique markedly improves a surgeon’s ability to see the line between the cancer that is to be removed and other healthy tissue. This new equipment will most likely lead to more use of blue light and other robotic surgery techniques where powerful visuals come into play.
“We are big enough to do the big things in state-of-the-art surgery,” said Zubernis, “but we are small enough that the service remains personal.” He said it was not just PR. He said he “felt privileged to work with people as caring, compassionate, and capable as the staff at Marcus Daly.”
“The people who work here are invested in the wellbeing of the patients we take care of on a very deep level,” he said. “People here really care. There is a real sense of family here.”
He said he works with a seasoned staff with lots of experience and, “as Chief of Surgery I have a special perspective. I feel particularly privileged to have the staff I have here. It not only makes my job easier, it’s a beauty to watch. We work as a real team. We deliver the goods. We are walking our talk.”
The public is invited to cross the Red Line at a Grand Opening planned for Friday, April 26 at the new center which is located at 1200 Westwood Drive. Visitors can meander through the operating suites, sterilization and decontamination area, and the recovery and pre- and post-operative rooms and experience the state-of-the-art in surgical technology. Visitors can witness simulated surgeries including Blue Light Cystoscopy and DaVinci Robotic, and the sterilization process, handle the many types of implantable devices, and more. The Grand Opening begins at 3:30 p.m. and goes to 6:30 p.m. A ceremonial ribbon cutting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.