CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital – Medical Center: Investing in Technology and Talent for the Community’s Future

By: Jennifer Webster
Thursday, July 3, 2014

CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital ­– Medical Center puts advanced technology in the hands of a team of skilled academic and private practice physicians, to the benefit of the region’s patients.

Situated in the South Texas Medical Center, CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital – Medical Center (CSRH-MC) provides a platform where the University of Texas (UT) Health Science Center at San Antonio physicians and private practice healthcare professionals can operate under the same roof and together make plans for the future.

“Our desire is to bring access to all patients in our service area,” says Chris Bowe, FACHE, Vice President and Administrator, CSRH-MC. “We collaborate with the university and private practice physicians to provide advanced care to everyone who needs it.”

The Right Tools for the Job

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Advanced care means compassionate hands, experienced physicians and the latest technology. CSRH-MC has invested generously in equipment to help physicians provide accurate, preventive, minimally invasive care for patients.

“We want to place exceptional technology in the hands of first-rate physicians,” Bowe says. “In today’s capital-restricted environment, we are excited to make that a reality.”

For cancer patients, an early diagnosis can mean many years of additional life. Tools such as Cysview Blue Light Cystoscopy (BLC) help physicians find bladder cancer that would otherwise go undetected.

“When you look with white light cystoscopy, you may miss a lesion,” says Ian Thompson III, MD, Assistant Professor of Urologic Oncology at UT Health Science Center at San Antonio. “Blue light reveals more abnormalities and results in greater sensitivity. When a lesion is suspected based on previous cystoscopy or blood in the urine, physicians can use Cysview BLC to make a more definitive finding.”

“Our goal is, first and foremost, to address the vast healthcare need in our service area, bringing advanced technology and compassionate care where they’re most needed.”
— Chris Bowe, FACHE, Vice President and Administrator, CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital – Medical Center

After the patient is treated with a coating for the bladder, physicians use a blue light cystoscope, which illuminates lesions.

“Bladder cancer is one of the costliest diseases to manage,” Dr. Thompson notes. “Patients require long-term surveillance. BLC improves our ability to identify disease and detect recurrence early.”

Robert Svatek, MD, MSCI, urologist at CSRH-MC and Assistant Professor at UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, is also a proponent of BLC.

“Superficial bladder cancers return quickly, at a rate of about 50 percent,” Dr. Svatek says. “Therefore, patients have to be evaluated endoscopically every three months. BLC enables us to see tumors we could not normally find with imaging. It allows us to make a more complete evaluation the first time we look at the bladder, reducing the number of interventions people need and the economic impact of the disease on the patient and family.”

According to Dr. Thompson, “Other area hospitals refer patients who have bladder cancer to CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital – Medical Center.”

“Only a few places in the United States have BLC,” Dr. Svatek adds. “CSRH-MC is the only center in South Texas to offer this technology to our patients.”

Physicians have access to another diagnostic tool — endoscopic ultrasound, or EUS. They can assess conditions of the gastrointestinal tract and respiratory system, as well as some vascular problems, with this technology. In addition, physicians can detect gallstones and bile duct blockage, as well as pancreatic, gastric and esophageal cancers.

“Supported by nearly two decades of evidence, endoscopic ultrasound has been performed at CSRH-MC since 2008,” says Sandeep Patel, DO, Director of the Pancreas Center at San Antonio and Associate Professor at UT Health Science Center at San Antonio. “We use this technology to see the lining of the stomach, the intestine and those structures outside the gastrointestinal tract.”

The left kidney, adrenal glands, pancreas, gallbladder and bile ducts are also seen with unparalleled clarity, Dr. Patel adds.

“We are only an inch away from these organs, so we can achieve a nice acuity and definition, as opposed to attempting to visualize them through skin, muscle and bone,” he says.

Moving from diagnosis to treatment, two additions to the da Vinci robotic surgery platform — da Vinci Firefly Fluorescence and da Vinci Single-Site — are bringing minimally invasive options to patients with a wide range of conditions.

Similar to BLC, da Vinci Firefly Fluorescence permits enhanced visualization of tumors and related structures. The surgeon intravenously administers a dye that binds to plasma proteins. The surgeon then uses a special fluoroscopic camera that illuminates the contrast dye as green, allowing the surgeon to distinctly recognize diseased and healthy tissue. The surgeon has the option to switch between normal and Firefly lighting. This technology allows for a more complete and accurate resection of the tumor.

Da Vinci Single-Site, typically used for gastrointestinal surgeries, preserves patient well-being through demonstrated reductions in infection rates, blood loss and surgical complications.

“Da Vinci began as a multiport technology,” notes Damon Mimari, MD, FACS, general surgeon at CSRH-MC. “Single-site surgery is a relatively recent addition.”

Using da Vinci Single-Site, surgeons operate via a single incision, usually about 1.5 inches long, in the umbilicus, says David C. Mullins, MD, FACS, general surgeon at CSRH-MC.

“At this point, we are performing cholecystectomy at CSRH-MC with da Vinci Single-Site,” he says. “Soon, we expect to be using the technology for other procedures, such as hernia repair and colon surgery.”

The surgeon’s ability to visualize the organs is impressive with this technology, Dr. Mullins continues.

“It is truly binocular, which results in excellent depth perception,” he says. “And, my patients are ecstatic about the cosmetic results.”

In fact, the single scar is often completely hidden in the umbilicus.

“Patients feel as if they have had ‘incisionless’ surgery,” Dr. Mimari says. “They also appreciate the decreased postoperative pain.”

Assembling the Experts

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CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital – Medical Center is also attracting excellent physicians to San Antonio. Drawn by a desire to care for the region’s patients, combined with an appreciation for the investment the hospital has made in advanced technology and physician education, these doctors are making CSRH-MC an excellent destination for South Texas patients.

In fact, since its inception, CSRH-MC has worked hard to build a program unparalleled in the region, Dr. Patel says.

“The hospital has been one of the leaders in our community as far as being aggressive with building our minimally invasive and robotic surgery program,” Dr. Mimari says. “The leadership has made investments not only in technology but also in staff who are very competent and comfortable with the instruments. This is important for surgeons; procedures go much more smoothly when the staff is highly experienced.”

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From left, Ian Thompson III, MD; Sandeep Patel, DO; David C. Mullins, MD, FACS; Damon Mimari, MD, FACS; Robert Svatek, MD, MSCI

“We have everything patients need,” Dr. Thompson says. “We are a research hub, with our own designated cancer center, right here in their own backyard.”

“I like being able to give the people of San Antonio the best possible care,” Dr. Svatek adds.

Compassionate Hands

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Advanced technology and aggressive physician recruitment, however, only meet the patient halfway. The rest of the “bridge” between CSRH-MC and the community is the hospital’s compassionate, patient-centered mission, which is to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ, and dates back to 1869.

“We offer our single-site and other robotic procedures in the context of a health-based system,” Dr. Mullins says. “We are a faith-based hospital where patients can pick their surgeons, not just for single-site, but for any advanced robotic surgery. Our patients have access to some of the finest physicians in the region, as well as caring staff to assist them in the postoperative setting.”

“CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital – Medical Center provides an environment where physicians can practice with every tool they need at their fingertips, and patients can access medical treatments easily,” Bowe says. “We have created a faith-based atmosphere where patients feel secure in their care and physicians have everything they need to practice medicine productively.”

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