Wayne Memorial Hospital Offering Robotic Surgery

(Honesdale, June 28, 2024) – Wayne Memorial Hospital is pleased to announce it has been utilizing an advanced surgical robot, the Da Vinci Xi, from a California-based company since February, paving the way for an anticipated upgrade with federal funding. The federal government has allocated $1 million in its 2024 appropriations bill for Wayne Memorial to acquire a new robotic system, pending approval from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

“While the receipt of federal funding is pending,” said Wayne Memorial CEO James Pettinato, BSN, MHSA, CCRN-K, “the partnership between the robot company, Intuitive, and Wayne Memorial represents our commitment to advancing healthcare in our community through cutting-edge minimally invasive surgery.”

The initiative to secure funding gained momentum following the recruitment of Dr. Jennifer Rodriguez-Aiello, MD, FACS, a skilled robotic surgeon, last summer. After OR (Operating Room) staff completed rigorous, months-long training sessions, Dr. Rodriguez-Aiello and the team performed Wayne Memorial’s inaugural robotic surgery in February. She now serves as Director of the hospital’s Robotic Surgery Program.

“We are thankful to have been granted the opportunity to use the Xi robot in the interim and excited about the prospect of Wayne Memorial Hospital acquiring the new Da Vinci 5 Robot,” Dr. Rodriguez-Aiello commented. “This technology will elevate our ability to deliver the highest quality surgical care to our patients. For patients, it promises smaller incisions, reduced pain, and faster recovery times. For surgeons, the robot offers superior optics, 3D vision, precise control, advanced haptics—or sense of touch— and unmatched ergonomic support. Embracing robotic surgery is essential to our commitment to providing state-of-the-art healthcare to the community.”

Robotic surgery, widely employed in specialties such as urology, gynecology, and general surgery, encompasses procedures ranging from gallbladder removal to hernia repairs, prostate resections and hysterectomies.  “As technology evolves and surgeons refine their skills,” Dr. Rodriguez-Aiello noted, “the applications of robotic surgery and the opportunities for enhanced patient outcomes continue to grow.”

“Under Dr. Rodriguez-Aiello’s leadership, Wayne Memorial is expanding its repertoire of robotic surgical procedures available to residents of Wayne and surrounding counties,” Pettinato added. The hospital is actively training additional surgeons in robotic techniques and recruiting specialists certified in robotic surgery. Dr. Barbara Plucknett, MD, FACOG, a urogynecologist, joined Wayne Memorial in January and is already performing robotic procedures.

“While robotic surgery may not be suitable for every patient, it represents a progressive option that can significantly shorten recovery times,” emphasized Lisa Champeau, Director of Communications and Development. Champeau, who spearheaded the grant application, expressed gratitude to Senator Robert Casey’s office for their support throughout the process. “Senator Casey and his team played a crucial role in recognizing the impact of this technology on our rural community.”

Pettinato echoed these sentiments, stating, “We are grateful to Senator Casey for his advocacy and guidance, underscoring the importance of robotic surgery in our healthcare strategy and future surgeon recruitment efforts.”

HRSA is expected to announce its decision on or about September 30, 2024.

For more information about Wayne Memorial’s comprehensive services, please visit www.wmh.org.

Photo, Wayne Memorial Surgical-Robot team, left to right: Sarah Rogan, Surgical PA-C; Beth Pompey, Surgical PA-C; Brianne Hankinson, CST; Melissa Evans, Surgical PA-C; Fatou Diagne, CST; Sherie Morganti, CRNA; Chris Pisanchyn, CRNA; Dr. Jennifer Rodriguez-Aiello; Frank Nagle, RN/OR Robot Coordinator. Missing from photo: Sue Dutton, RN; Nicole Keen, CST.