Staff Photo: John Bohn John Duggan, of Intuitaive Surgical, gives a demonstration of a robotic daVinci surgical machine to be used for minimally invasive robotic surgery as the new state-of-the art surgical tower at Eastside Medical Center is unveiled on Thursday. The new center offers 48 surgical beds and very modern surgical equipment.
SNELLVILLE -- To realize the scope of one of the shiny new features of the North Tower at Eastside Medical Center, the robotic surgery equipment there has the magnification capacity to see Abraham Lincoln's head on the face of a penny.
With the capacity to see something 10 times larger than the normal laparoscopic, or minimally invasive, surgery, doctors at Eastside are better equipped to perform kidney and prostate cancer surgeries. The "Da Vinci" technique also helps patients recover faster.
"There was a depth perception there that wasn't there with normal laparoscopic cases," said Casey Foster, a certified surgical technologist, who assists doctors with robotic surgeries.
That kind of surgical advancement was one of several features of Eastside's latest addition unveiled at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday. The $55 million, 92,000-square foot facility, which has three floors, includes advanced technology, a hybrid operating suite and 48 surgical beds, said CEO Kim Ryan. Those "adjustable acuity" patient beds will have the added capacity to turn Eastside's nine current operating rooms into 10 much more spacious, better equipped operating rooms.
The hospital has received clearance from the state to build up to six floors, and Ryan said officials would discuss expansion once it reached 80 percent capacity.
Ryan recognized the "magnificent seven" doctors from Snellville who in 1978 said the city needed a hospital. And during a series of additions and upgrades to the hospital in the last three years that cost about $75 million, Eastside has been transformed.
"This is not a small neighborhood hospital anymore," said Foster, who has worked there about five years. "It's a community hospital where people know the name."
While it's grown, Ryan said 50 percent of Gwinnett residents still travel to Atlanta for healthcare needs.
"So my vision is to up the level of care," she said. "So people don't have to go in the city."
The tower will welcome patients starting next week that will only add to the traffic in a hospital that saw about 62,000 emergency room patients last year.
To make the facility more welcoming, 170 pieces of artwork adorn the walls from local artists and students from four area high schools. The exhibit is called "The Art of Healing" and features some pieces that are for sale.
Brookwood student Mikki Harris said she took 400 photographs of herself performing a handstand using a self-timed camera before she found one she wanted to draw for the piece -- "Flight" -- that's displayed in a hallway in the tower.
"It proves to myself that I'm good at art, and it is really exciting to be a part of something that's so big in the community," Harris said.
Unlike many hospitals around the country, Ryan said, Eastside is growing, which helps recruit employees to work alongside an "incredible nursing staff and support staff."
"We just want to make sure the patients get exceptional care when they come here because it's the worst time in their lives," Ryan said.