Beebe unveils robotic surgical system

Lisa Feist of Intuitive Surgical, left, and April Connor are training Beebe team members on the new da Vinci Xi surgical robotic system. (Submitted photo)

LEWES — Beebe Healthcare welcomed the newest member of its team this month — the da Vinci Xi Surgical System. And, behind the advanced surgical robot is a team of highly trained and dedicated health professionals with Beebe Healthcare’s Center for Robotic Surgery.

“The creation of the surgical robotics program at Beebe and the acquisition of the da Vinci Xi System are very exciting for our teams and our organization,” said Rick Schaffner, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Beebe Healthcare.

“We are building our robotics program from the ground up, so our teams will all be trained on the robot by clinical experts from our partners, Intuitive Surgical, with guidance from cardiothoracic surgeon and Medical Director of Surgical Robotics at Beebe Dr. Kurt Wehberg.”

Beebe announced earlier this year that Dr. Wehberg will join Beebe this summer as the co-chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery, the Chief of Robotics, and vice president of Clinical Innovation. Dr. Wehberg will be the leader of the robotics program, developing strategic and tactical leadership and oversight. Robotic surgery has many advantages for appropriate patients, including smaller incisions and reduced recovery times.

Training the next generation of surgical teams

Previous to Beebe, Dr. Wehberg served as the medical director of the Thoracic Oncology Program, the chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery and director of Robotic Cardiothoracic Surgery at Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury, Maryland. He was a founder of both the Thoracic Oncology and Robotic Cardiothoracic Surgery programs and led all three programs to national recognition.

Joining Dr. Wehberg and the surgical robotics team at Beebe is Ty Huskey, who also previously was with the PRMC surgical robotics team. Both Dr. Wehberg and Mr. Husky have performed more than 500 robotic surgeries.

“This level of experience makes them what we call masters,” said Lisa Feist of Intuitive Surgical, Beebe’s partner in the robotics program. “They both have experience building robotics programs with other healthcare organizations.”

April Connor, a Beebe team member in the Operating Room since 2004, will serve as the Robotics Program coordinator.

“I am very excited to be a part of this program and be a part of history in the making here at Beebe,” Ms. Connor said.

The da Vinci Xi robot is being used already to help train future robotics teams at Beebe. Ms. Feist and Ms. Connor are holding in-service trainings for everyone who will be in the room during robotic surgery procedures.

“There are generally about four people in the operating room — the surgeon, the surgical physician assistant, a nurse, and a scrub tech,” Ms. Feist said. “It’s exciting that Beebe now has this advanced surgical robot. It will benefit the community and our patients here.”

The robot will be used by the multidisciplinary teams for thoracic or lung surgery to begin with and then the program will expand from there, eventually to include robotic gynecological surgery, general surgery, and more.

As with all da Vinci Surgical Systems, the surgeon is 100 percent in control of the robotic-assisted system, which translates his/her hand movements into smaller, more precise movements of tiny instruments inside the patient’s body. The system’s 3D-HD vision system provides surgeons a highly magnified view, virtually extending their eyes and hands into the patient.

The da Vinci Xi System is designed to accommodate and seamlessly integrate a range of current technologies, as well as future innovations, in areas such as imaging, advanced instruments and anatomical access.

“I am thrilled to be helping build the surgical robotics program at Beebe. We look forward to continuing to expand upon the minimally invasive surgical options available to patients in Delaware and beyond,” said Dr. Wehberg.

For more information on Beebe Healthcare’s Center for Robotic Surgery, go to

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