By Rick Pfeiffer
Niagara Gazette — The "suite" life has gotten even better at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.
An enthusiastic group of doctors and support staff crowded around Monday as the hospital dedicated its newest surgical suite. The unit will help accommodate a rising volume of surgeries being performed at the medical center.
"Within the last year, we have tripled the number of gynecological surgeries we’re performing," Memorial President and CEO Joseph Ruffolo said. "That's a result of our expansion of primary care in women's services. That increase in primary care has resulted in increased referrals to our surgeons."
The new suite, which will house the medical center’s robotic surgery program, is part of an overall $3 million project that includes an expanded patient recovery area, updated and redecorated family waiting area, and significant technology upgrades, including robotic surgery.
Ruffolo said in the last year, 12 new "robotic surgeons" have joined the medical center staff. He said many have come from Buffalo to take advantage of the medical center's expanded surgical capacity and advanced technology.
“We have seen a substantial increase in both the number of surgeons on our medical staff and the number of surgeries they perform here,” said Venkat Kolli, M.D., the medical center’s chief of surgery. “Having a new operating room dedicated to robotic surgery will give us the scheduling flexibility we need to accommodate that growth, including the addition of single-incision robotic gallbladder surgery."
Memorial will be one of only two hospitals in the eight counties of Western New York performing that procedure.
The service expansion is a major component of the hospital’s overall health care transformation plan that began in 2010.
"This is addressing healthcare reform, which aims to reduce hospitalization and the use of emergency rooms." Ruffolo said. "It allows us to provide more and more procedures that used to be in-patient and that are now going out-patient. (Healthcare reform calls for) more resources to be directed to out-patient services."
Memorial will now feature six operating rooms and two urology suites.
“This renovation and expansion of our surgical capacity will enhance (and help us deliver) high quality patient outcomes and patient satisfaction,” Ruffolo said.
In addition to the new robotic operating suite, the renovation project includes installation of new communication lines and diagnostic data stations that will also support an electronic patient medical record system.
"We think, for now, we have enough capacity to handle the volume that comes our way," Ruffolo said.