Pandemic Pause is Over for Elective Cases

When NorthBay Medical Center opened eight state-of-the-art surgical suites in its newly built North Wing last fall, it began providing patients with access to technology, talent and surgical equipment found nowhere else in Solano County.

The suites are specially equipped to handle trauma, neurological and cardiovascular cases, but now they offer more. NorthBay expanded into robotic surgery with the addition of the da Vinci Surgical System in December.

ABOVE: Sonia De Guia, R.N. (left) helps Andrea Francis, R.N., Robotic Surgical System program manager, gown up properly before a procedure.
After the COVID-19 outbreak began, NorthBay augmented its already robust infection prevention measures and put all but the most serious surgeries on hold for a time.

“We were still providing surgical treatment for trauma patients or those needing emergent surgeries —  for such things as cancer treatment, open heart or spinal surgeries or cases of extreme pain,” recalled Jim Bollig, senior director of Perioperative Services, “and we also needed to plan for the possibility of a surge of COVID-positive surgical patients.”

This spring, a separate isolation operating room was built especially for COVID-19 patients in a separate part of the hospital. The room’s air circulates under its own system and then is filtered and vented to the outside. A negative pressure ante-room was built just outside the suite, where staff could safety don and doff their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Special filters were added to anesthesia machines, and protocols and training established should a COVID-19 positive patient need to be intubated or extubated.

Elective surgeries — such as for hip or knee replacements —  resumed in May, but only for those who passed a detailed pre- and post-op screening that included answering several COVID-exposure history questions, undergoing nasal swabs and temperature checks.

“We are happy to be back performing all surgeries,” Jim said. “People are getting back to work, our patients are getting the care that they need close to home, our surgical suites have always been safe and ready, and we are meeting the needs of the community.”

Robotic Surgery Now in Solano

Did you know that NorthBay Healthcare has a robotic surgery program? Here are some quick facts:

  • The da Vinci Surgical System is typically used on such minimally invasive procedures as hernia and gallbladder repairs, appendectomies and urologic and gynecologic procedures.
  • Four NorthBay physicians have been trained and more are in the process.
  • The system is available for use by credentialed surgeons outside the NorthBay system.
  • By July, more than 185 surgeries have been performed using the program.

Surgical Prep for Safety

Patients undergoing surgery at NorthBay Healthcare’s surgical suites at NorthBay Medical Center, NorthBay VacaValley Hospital or the Ambulatory Surgery Center on the VacaValley Hospital campus are prescreened before their procedures. To assure patient safety as well as the safety of medical staff:

  • Prescreening includes a COVID-exposure questionnaire;
  • A detailed review of the case between surgeon and anesthesiologist if the surgery requires general anesthesia and intubation, as well as possible recovery in a skilled nursing facility; and
  • Nasal swab and temperature testing several days before elective surgery and again on the day of surgery.
By the Numbers

NorthBay Healthcare has packed a whole lot of technology on the third floor of its new North Wing at NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield. Although there are specialized operating rooms on the floor, NorthBay surgeons can perform other procedures outside of those specialties if needed due to a standardized room setup. Here’s a quick peek into the surgical landscape, by the numbers:

  • 8 Surgical Suites opened with state-of-the-art technology in October, 2019.
  • 3 General Purpose Suites: Procedures run the gamut, with the exception of those intended for the specialty suites.
  • 1 Trauma Suite: Slightly larger than the other suites to handle an array of equipment and traumas, it is located closest to the elevators that will whisk patients up from the Emergency Department.
  • 1 Neurosurgical Suite provides real-time three-dimensional imaging and stealth computer-guided navigation — and a Zeiss Pantera operating microscope that allows NorthBay neurosurgeons to perform the most complex spinal and brain surgeries.
  • 1 Cardiovascular Suite equipped to handle comprehensive cardiothoracic surgery and vascular surgery cases.
  • 1 Hybrid Suite combines all the equipment of a traditional operating room with highly advanced imaging equipment. A robotic device couples multiple imaging capabilities with an integrated surgical table. Hybrid operating rooms are typically used for minimally invasive procedures — such an angioplasty, which is a surgical repair or unblocking of a blood vessel, especially a coronary artery. Minimally invasive surgeries are beneficial for patients because they reduce the risk of infection and bleeding and allow patients to recover and go home faster.
  • 1 Robotic Suite, home to the da Vinci Surgical System, which is used on minimally invasive procedures such as hernia and gallbladder repairs, as well as appendectomies and urologic and gynecologic procedures.

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