Gary Cooke
Special to The Union

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July 15, 2014
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New technology, leadership in the OR

Most people don’t know much about what goes on in an operating room because they’re unconscious during their visit. Who knew that the conversations would be about robotics, computerized surgical navigation systems, the Japanese concept of Kaizen (continuous improvement) and treating patients like they are members of the family?

This is how Scott Brown, RN, the new director of surgical services, describes his department at Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital (SNMH) and his vision of the future.

Part of that future is already here.

This month, for example, the hospital will obtain its first surgical robot, known as the Mako, which will be used by orthopedic surgeons to do unilateral (one sided) knee replacement. The device will benefit patients by requiring less recovery time and returning them sooner to normal life, he explained.

With the addition of Summit Orthopedic Group physicians, the department has acquired a new Stryker Navigation 3 system. This computer guided support helps surgeons in placement of hip or knee replacements, and is the latest such system available.

Brown said the department also uses Stryker endoscopic equipment employing cameras and scopes for a number of procedures.

He shares that his SNMH department was one of only three from the 42 hospitals in the Dignity Health system invited to participate in an “OR Kaizen” that examined OR (operating room) turnover time to improve efficiency (cleaning operating rooms and preparing them for the next surgery). Kaizen is a Japanese word that has come to mean “good change” or “continuous improvement,” and is an effort to involve all employees in a continuing quest for improvement in all aspects of a task.

“This was such an honor, and we have successfully improved turnover times,” Brown said. “Our future plans include continually updating equipment and instruments to provide our patients with the highest quality of surgical services.”

Along with the Summit surgeons, Brown praised the Delphi Orthopedic Group and the talented surgeons who provide for our community.

Surgery services available at SNMH include general (including laparoscopic), orthopedic, urology, plastic, gynecological, ear-nose-throat, and endoscopy procedures. The department includes a main operating room, a post anesthesia care unit, pre-op, orthopedic clinic, and sterile processing unit. In all there are three operating rooms and an endoscopy suite. Last month the department performed 82 inpatient surgeries, 106 outpatient surgeries and 35 endoscopy procedures.

Brown started his health care career in 1990 as an environmental service worker in the operating rooms at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor, where he first discovered his desire to become a nurse.

“I worked my way up as an EVS employee, becoming an OR orderly, then a surgical instrument tech, and finally an anesthesia tech, which I did all the way through nursing school,” he said.

As a registered nurse of 15 years, Brown then took on the position of Interim Director of Surgical Services in 2012 at Methodist Hospital of Sacramento before moving to the SNMH job.

“My children’s grandparents live here and I have always loved this community,” he explained. “So when the opportunity came to work here I jumped on it.”

Rooted in family, Brown has four children, aged 5, 7, 10 and 23. When he describes his 52-employee department as family, and uses the word in describing his professional philosophy, it has an authentic ring

“My philosophy is centered on family,” he said. “I would like patients to feel like they are part of the family here at SNMH, and that they were given the best care and service. I have always treated every patient I’ve come into contact with as if they were my own family member and given them the same care I would want for my family.”

Brown added, “SNMH is an exciting place to be. I don’t take any credit – I’m just the facilitator. We have the best team in surgical services and we are a family, and that’s what I love about being here.”

All physicians providing care for patients at SNMH are members of the medical staff and are independent practitioners, not employees of the hospital.


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The Union Updated Jul 15, 2014 02:01PM Published Jul 17, 2014 12:13PM Copyright 2014 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.