New robot at Rapid City Regional Hospital

Published: Sep. 18, 2018 at 2:11 PM CDT
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Some doctors at Rapid City Regional Hospital will be taking the back seat during certain surgeries, letting a robot have control. The Da vinci Robot XI is the latest technology at the hospital and on Monday the machine made its first slice on a human body. A hiatal hernia being the case with recovery time for patients cut in half, and ease for doctors this robot is the future of medicine.

"Doing this surgery laparoscopically would be a highly advanced procedure perform, the robot makes it... I won't say easy but a lot easier than it would be laparoscopically," says Doctor Kenney a general surgeon and robotic specialist with Rapid City Regional Hospital.

Jodene Ehrich is the first patient to be worked on by the Da vinci XI... I spoke with her on Thursday about the procedure and why she allowed a robot to be used. Ehrich is a 70 year old Rapid City woman who loves being active, especially playing golf. In the Spring she was told she needed to have surgery but decided to put it off until the fall... she said she has total faith in Dr. Kenney, and when he told her about the robot, she had no hesitation.

"It's mind boggling just to tell people I'm going to have robotic surgery, it's like really? We're talking about me walking in one morning and walking out the next day and it's just amazing how far they've come, how advanced technology is," says Ehrich.

During the surgery if an emergency does occur, there is an option to stop the machine and doctors can take over. Dr. Kenney has been doing robotic surgeries at other hospitals since 2012, and says in his 6 years experience he's never had that happen, he says, this type of hernia, is an ideal operation to do robotically.

"Being able to use the robot to do this surgery, I'm much more relaxed. It's going to be a good case, it's an excellent case for the robot itself. It makes my job easier to do the surgery and it makes the patients recovery faster," says Kenney.

Currently there are 8 surgeons at Rapid City Regional Hospital that have the training to operate the new robot... Dr. Kenney says going forward he would like to see an additonal robot at the hospital.

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