On the Cutting Edge

Posted: December 4, 2019

Robotics Team Launches Advanced New Program

With intensive training for staff and physicians behind them, pioneers of NorthBay Healthcare’s da Vinci robotics program officially launched the service with its first surgical case on Dec. 3.

It was a gall bladder removal, performed by William Fulton, D.O., using the da Vinci robotic surgical system. A simple surgery, perhaps, but it represented a major milestone for health care in Solano County.

NorthBay’s da Vinci system is not only the most technologically advanced system available, but no other medical facility in the county has one. It was delivered in early October and training for staff and physicians began immediately, according to Andrea Francis, robotics surgical systems program coordinator.

Dr. Fulton and Herkanwal Khaira, M.D., along with Majid Kianmajd, D.O., and Haroon Mojaddidi, M.D., are the first wave of credentialed surgeons to use the system, and their cases will be attended by several surgical staff members who will work with them on prostrate, hernia and appendectomy cases. From there, training will expand to include several other surgeons who will perform gynecologic, urologic, and even bariatric surgeries.

“We expect that Surgical Suite No. 7 will be very busy,” noted J. Peter Zopfi, D.O., chief of staff, who will complete his training in the spring. “We’re not little old Fairfield anymore. We have made a major investment in the system, in the training and the resources for this groundbreaking level of care for our patients in Solano County.”

“NorthBay is excited to have this technology in hand, not only because it meets our mission of advanced care, but it is also a gift to our community, bringing advanced technology close to home,” said Aimee Brewer, president of NorthBay Healthcare Group. “We invite other robotically trained surgeons to NorthBay Medical Center, where they can use the most advanced equipment available in the country.”

The $2 million da Vinci Surgical System allows surgeons to perform complex and delicate reconstructive surgeries through a minimally invasive approach. The surgeon sits at a console and uses a set of instruments that translates their hand movements in real time, but with a greater range of motion and dexterity. Surgeons perform these tasks through one or two small incisions, according to Dr. Khaira.

But as Dr. Zopfi pointed out, “This is not a one-person show. Everyone on the team has been trained, from anesthesia to clinical staff.”

Training included travel to other hospitals to observe cases, as well as participation in labs and simulations.

“Our training was spread out over several days,” according to Nina Dazo, R.N. “We were taught how to dock equipment to the patient and prepare the sterile field. The goal is to eventually have all of us (surgical support staff) trained on the robots.”

Dr. Khaira, medical director for the NorthBay robotics program, has been performing robotic surgeries since 2007 and has served as a trainer and proctor for several years.

“It’s really, really fantastic to have this here at NorthBay,” Dr. Khaira said. “It is the future of surgery, where we can treat complex problems in a minimally invasive way. Our patients would have had to go to other institutions to receive the care we can give them now, and they won’t have to travel and can recover close to home.”

Jim Bollig, senior director of Perioperative Services, noted the system is a big benefit for patients.

“Surgery can be painful, and traditionally involves a large incision, but this system uses maybe only one or two small incisions,” he said. “There is less pain and discomfort, less blood loss, recovery is quicker and we experience better outcomes.”

About a week before the launch, Drs. Khaira and Zopfi fielded questions from reporters, resulting in Page 1 stories in the Fairfield Daily Republic and Reporter newspapers on Thanksgiving Day.

“What a great Thanksgiving blessing...” said Jim. “... to have our local newspapers heralding  the arrival of the first da Vinci system in Solano County to NorthBay!”


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