WHH Expands Robotics Program

June 27, 2014

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (June 27, 2014) – Winter Haven Hospital now offers the latest in minimally-invasive robotic-assisted surgical procedures: the ability to remove a gallbladder through just one small incision in the bellybutton.

Dr. Robert Thomas, General Surgeon Specialist at Bond Clinic, performed the first single-site robotic cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal) in March. This is the latest milestone for the program that started at WHH in 2010.

“Our goal is get patients back to their normal lives as safely and quickly as possible,” Dr. Thomas said.  “With this technique, patients are in and out of the hospital the same day.  Patients generally experience less pain, minimal scaring and a faster return to work and other daily activities.”

There was a time when gallbladder surgery brought an unsettling picture to the mind: a huge, diagonal scar just below the ribcage.  In the 1990s, advancement of laparoscopic surgery offered patients benefits of minimally invasive surgery, including less scarring and reduced pain.  Today, single site robotic cholecystectomy takes this procedure to a whole new level.

“With the Single-Site da Vinci®Surgery, we only have to make one incision about two centimeters long at the navel.  Through the small opening, we insert a tiny robotic camera and flexible working instruments,” Dr. Thomas said. “The camera provides a high-definition, three-dimensional look inside the body, allowing me to see details not possible with the naked eye.  The instruments, which I control from a console near the patient, are like miniature versions of my own hands, but with even greater dexterity and steadiness.  The result is a safe, effective operation that often leaves no scar and allows patients to quickly get back to their usual routine.”

In addition to single site gallbladder surgery, Winter Haven Hospital offers robotic-assisted colorectal surgery, general surgery, gynecological surgery, and urological surgery.

Dr. Thomas has been engaged in the practice of general surgery and surgical oncology since 1988, with the last 17 years in Winter Haven at Bond Clinic.  He is Board Certified and fellowship trained in Surgical Oncology.  Dr. Thomas treats patients with a variety of surgical conditions including benign and malignant diseases of the breast, intestines, soft tissues and gallbladder as well as all types of hernias.  He has experience in the use of advanced laparoscopic and robotic techniques to manage these conditions. 

About Winter Haven Hospital

Established in 1926, Winter Haven Hospital is a 527-bed facility accredited by the Joint Commission. On Aug. 30, 2013, Winter Haven Hospital joined the Tampa Bay area-based BayCare Health System to become the system’s 11th not-for-profit hospital. More than 300 board-certified physicians comprise the medical staff, covering specialties such as stroke, open heart, obstetrics and gynecology, and emergency services. In addition, the hospital is recognized as a Magnet Nursing Center of Excellence, a prestigious designation held by less than seven percent of hospitals nationwide. Winter Haven Hospital has more than 2,500 employees, making it east Polk County’s largest private employer, and has been recognized by Polk Works Workforce 2020 as one of the county’s best places to work. Winter Haven Hospital is located at 200 Avenue F NE, Winter Haven, FL 33881 and serves as the major medical center for east Polk County and the U.S. Highway 27/Ridge Corridor. For more information, please call (863) 293-1121 or visit www.winterhavenhospital.org.

About BayCare Health System

BayCare Health System is a leading community-based health system in the Tampa Bay area. Composed of a network of 11 not-for-profit hospitals, outpatient facilities and services such as imaging, lab, behavioral health and home health care, BayCare provides expert medical care throughout a patient's lifetime. With more than 200 access points conveniently located throughout Tampa Bay, BayCare connects patients to a complete range of preventive, diagnostic and treatment services for any health care need. For more information, visit BayCare on the Web at BayCare.org.