In April 2018, a Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) Suite was opened at the Aberdeen Hospital. The addition provides benefits for patients and Operating Room staff and changes how many surgical procedures can be carried out. The MIS Suite also has a positive impact on the hospital’s ability to recruit surgeons.
“We started thinking of an MIS Suite 10 years ago,” says Priscilla Sharkey, Director of Perioperative and Surgical Services for the Northern Zone of the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA). “It was when we received support from the Aberdeen Hospital Auxiliary and Aberdeen Health Foundation that the idea really got traction. I am incredibly thankful that both organizations immediately understood the benefits and committed to making this major advance possible.” Sharkey adds that the project would not have reached fruition without the leadership of Alana Toole, Health Services Manager, and the perioperative team. In collaboration with a team from NSHA the group designed the space and worked out logistics for the project.
Minimally invasive surgery involves making small incisions and inserting telescopes with tiny cameras that allow surgeons to easily see and conduct procedures. Equipment on long arms can be moved in and out of the surgical field as needed. MIS Suites are expected to outgrow traditional operating rooms where equipment on wheels is brought in for procedures. Surgeons benefit through better visualization, ease of movement and reduced posture fatigue. The suite eliminates hazards such as electrical cords and issues that can occur repositioning equipment. There is also more space for staff which creates better efficiency and flow.
Smaller incisions mean less pain and faster healing for patients. Pain is reduced due to less trauma and injury to the skin, muscles and nerves. This also reduces recovery times. The ten days expected for traditional bowel surgery can be brought down to a few days with laparoscopic surgery. Some of the procedures that can be done include general surgery (gallbladder, bowel, appendectomies, hernia repair); gynaecology (hysterectomies, exploratory surgery); and orthopaedic (knee and shoulder scopes).
Recruitment and retention of surgeons is also improved with the MIS Suite. “To be able to practice in an environment that enables development is key,” says Dr. Chakshu Sharma who recently moved to Pictou County. “I came because the Aberdeen Hospital had tools that will allow me to continue to grow.” Sharma explains that the average general surgery graduate now does more laparoscopic than open surgery and the reasons speak for themselves. “Research shows that pain scores for patients are much better for laparoscopic surgery. Patients can return to work sooner and get back to their lives.”
“I still remember the day we committed to raising $250,000 to purchase the MIS Suite,” says Sharon Macdonald, Past President of the Aberdeen Hospital Auxiliary. “This was by far the largest single contribution in our 110 year history. Fran Harris made a motion to take on the commitment and with her enthusiasm drove the initiative.” In less than two years the requested funds were raised. The Auxiliary dedicates their donation to the memory of Fran whose passion, determination and guidance made this a reality.
For the Aberdeen Health Foundation the MIS Suite is a milestone in its mission to provide financial support, helping the hospital adapt its operations, programs, equipment, and services to ever-changing technologies and improved standards of care. It also represents an important opportunity for the future. “The MIS Suite is a shining example of what’s possible when we work together,” says the Foundation’s Executive Director, Michelle Ferris. The Foundation and Auxiliary contributed nearly equal shares to the 1/2 million dollar project. “I look forward to continuing our work with the Auxiliary and other community partners to transform and modernize our hospital.”
Pictured above: General Surgery Resource Nurse Shaunna Vaughan, RN; Dr. Chakshu Sharma; and Dr. Colleen O’Sullivan, Chief of General Surgery.