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Major milestone in robotic surgery at South Brooklyn Health

<i>WCBS</i><br/>In the operating room of NYC Health + Hospitals/ South Brooklyn Health
In the operating room of NYC Health + Hospitals/ South Brooklyn Health

By Hannah Kliger

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    NEW YORK (WCBS) — In the operating room of NYC Health + Hospitals/ South Brooklyn Health, robotic arms belonging to a Da Vinci Surgical System were working over a patient, while a surgeon controlled them remotely from a corner of the room.

“All it does is allows us to use much smaller hands than our hands,” explained urologist Dr. Abdo Kabarriti.

The team at South Brooklyn Health launched its robotic surgical program last summer. With this year’s ribbon cutting of the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hospital on campus, it managed to hit the 500th mark in the span of a year.

Coney Island resident Lizette Rodriguez-Ayala recently underwent a kidney cyst removal. She was the milestone patient.

“I was like, wait a minute. A robot? I don’t know if we can do that. You know, like, are you going to be doing it?” she recalled. “He said, ‘No, I’m going to be assisting the robot…because it makes it easier for me to see because of where this, this was placed.'”

Dr. Kabarriti, who has conducted hundreds of such surgeries, said the benefits include smaller incisions, more precision, and less blood loss.

“We have offered this surgery to a lot of different subspecialties,” he told CBS New York during an exclusive tour of the operating room. “Including general surgery, colorectal surgery, gynecology, bariatric surgery, urology, thoracic surgery. So it’s not limited to one field.”

The hundreds of surgeries were made possible with $2.6 million in funding from City Council in 2021.

South Brooklyn Health, formerly known as Coney Island Hospital, serves a community of more than half a million people.

Hospital leaders like Dr. Muthukumar Muthusamy, chairman of surgery, said they care for a large elderly population and lower-income communities.

“Our hospital is mainly geared to serve the people who are in the trenches, so we are an inner city hospital. And so, this technology is available for underserved, uninsured patients as well,” he explained.

The campus is hoping to expand the program with the purchase of a second robot, which will double its surgical abilities.

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