Lakeland Health Care

Patient Stories

Celebrating Survivors

Age Diagnosed
Gallbladder Removal / da Vinci Surgical System
Feature Story

In February 2014, Rosario Espinoza went to the Emergency Department at Lakeland Medical Center, St. Joseph because she was suffering from severe abdominal pain. The source of the 32-year-old’s pain turned out to be gallstones. Gallstones are deposits of digestive fluid that have hardened inside the gallbladder. If left untreated, gallstones can lead to blockages and inflammation, which may result in jaundice and infection.

As a nurse’s assistant at Lakeland, Rosario knew it was important to have her gallbladder removed before she had any medical complications. She had heard positive things from colleagues and patients about general surgeon Roy Winslow, MD, FACS, Southwestern Medical Clinic, so she set an appointment to meet with him.

Dr. Winslow presented Rosario with two surgical options to remove her gallbladder. One was more invasive, requiring multiple incisions. The other option would require only a single incision through her belly button and would be performed by Dr. Winslow using Lakeland’s da Vinci Si® surgical robot.

The da Vinci system is utilized by highly trained Lakeland surgeons to perform minimally invasive procedures. The benefits of having robotic-assisted surgery can include faster recovery, less pain, a shorter hospital stay, and, in some cases, a hidden scar. The da Vinci Si robot performs over 1 million safety checks every second.

While Rosario knew Lakeland had the da Vinci system, she had never considered that she would require its services. After doing some research, Rosario chose to have the surgery performed by Dr. Winslow using the da Vinci. She was not scared about the procedure, trusting Dr. Winslow and his staff, but she was concerned about her worsening pain.

On the day of the surgery at the St. Joseph hospital, Rosario said she was never left alone. This was extremely important to her, though she had not mentioned it to anyone until her recovery. There was always someone by her side — from the moment she entered the hospital until she went home.

“I think I was even with someone when I was unconscious,” she said, describing how when she awoke, “There was a nurse by me. Right there.” She said the amount of effort the staff put into ensuring her comfort was “absolutely amazing.”

Dr. Winslow and the surgical team helped reduce Rosario’s anxieties, going through the procedure before and after, and answering her questions. The surgery was a success and, after Dr. Winslow explained the steps to recovery, Rosario was permitted to go home. She was surprised to be home so soon. “I arrived at the hospital at 8am and was home by 2pm,” she said. “It was great.”

At home, Rosario continued to heal, feeling better every day. Dr. Winslow’s prediction had been correct, and by the fifth day Rosario considered herself “back to normal.” Rosario was able to leave her house six days after being discharged from the hospital; she returned to work with no restrictions after only a week and a half.

Rosario said she took things slow for a few months after the surgery to allow for complete healing. Now, however, she considers herself totally recovered. “I’m still amazed by how fast it was!” she added.

Rosario said she thinks it is wonderful that Lakeland has the da Vinci technology and would recommend it to anyone who might consider a similar procedure. “I felt safe,” she said.

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    Lakeland Medical Center, St. Joseph  
    Lakeland Hospital, Niles  
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