Englewood Health’s emphasis on robotic surgery is drawing patients and top doctors

When Dr. Anna Serur, one of the nation’s leading colorectal surgeons, treats a patient at Englewood Hospital, she does it with a team of top-notch health care professionals at her side.

And one robot.

Serur performs surgery with one of the Englewood Health system’s three da Vinci robotic surgical systems, a state-of-the-art medical device that has helped Serur perform surgery that uses smaller incisions and leads to better postoperative outcomes.

The da Vinci devices not only have helped Englewood Health become a leader in robotic surgery in the state (with robotic surgeries increasing by more than 30% from before the pandemic), it is helping Englewood Health attract — and retain — more top doctors, who want to use this state-of-the-art equipment.

“Robotic surgery is the latest and greatest thing,” Englewood Health Chief Operating Officer Helene Wolk said. “It’s become the tool of choice among doctors and patients.”

Serur, who came to Englewood Health from a New York City hospital in 2017, agreed.

“This cutting-edge technology allows to provide more precise, minimally invasive procedures, which means faster recoveries, less post-operative pain and improved outcomes for our patients,” she said.

“Robotic technology, like the da Vinci system, is a game changer in the field of colorectal surgery, offering hope and better quality of life to those in need.”

Robotic surgery is everything you’d think it is. Doctors, away from the patient, use a consule (think gaming) to control the robotic arms — and they could do it in a way that is more precise than traditional surgery.

Englewood Health, which purchased its first da Vinci tool in 2009, has been one of the leaders in the state in robotic surgery — using it for a variety of surgeries, including repairing hernias or with urology or GYN oncology, Wolk said.

“It’s used in almost every service line to really elevate that precision standard of care in the operating room,” she said.

That’s why Englewood Health is all in on the process.

In the summer of 2022, Englewood Health became the first hospital in New Jersey and one of only 20 hospitals in the country to acquire the Excelsius Ecosystem — a new advanced technology for robot-assisted spine surgery with GPS-like precision to improve spine surgery.

“This technology takes us to the next era of spine surgery,” Dr. Kevin Yao, chief of neurosurgery at Englewood Health, said.

Last summer, it added a third da Vinci system. And last December, it added a robotic-assisted bronchoscopy, using the Ion endoluminal system from Intuitive Surgical, to improve the early diagnosis of lung cancer. This advanced technology allows doctors to perform minimally invasive biopsies in distant areas of the lungs, including small nodules in the peripheral regions.

The Excelsius Ecosystem — a new advanced technology for robot-assisted spine surgery with GPS-like precision to improve spine surgery. – Courtesy photo

Dr. Christos Stavropoulos, director of thoracic oncology at the Lefcourt Family Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center and chief thoracic surgery at Englewood Health, said the impact can be lifesaving.

“This technology grants us unprecedented access to peripheral lung nodules, enhancing our ability to detect and combat lung cancer in its earliest stages, ultimately giving our patients a better chance at a healthier future,” he said.

Englewood Health, which performed just under 1,000 robotic surgeries in 2019 the last full year before the pandemic had approximately 1,300 robotic surgeries in 2023. This year, Wolk feels the hospital could top 1,500 robotic surgeries.

The numbers feed themselves, Wolk said, more than justifying the seven-figure purchase prices.

“When patients learn that we are leaders in robotic surgery, they want to come here,” Wolk said.

Doctors, too.

Wolk pointed to Dr. Celinés Morales-Ribeiro and Dr. Jingjing Sherman, who both perform robotic surgery in bariatric and general surgeries.

The expansion of its robotic surgery program comes at a time when Englewood is expanding its geographic reach, as the Bergen County hospital has become a regional powerhouse, attracting patients from Hudson, Passaic, Morris and Essex counties both at its flagship hospital and dozens of regional care centers — including a recently opened facility in Jersey City.

“It’s all part of our commitment to not only care for people close to home, but do it with the latest technologies,” Wolk said.

“I think we have a recipe for success. We really believe our success in Jersey City has shown that, when we bring Englewood care to a community, we really do elevate the standard and provide amazing care for those patients who are extremely grateful for the care that we’re delivering locally.”

Conversation Starter

Reach Englewood Health at: englewoodhealth.org or call 201-894-3000.