A $1.75 million surgical robot bought with taxpayer money is collecting dust at an Arlington hospital because too few doctors at the public hospital district know how to use the state-of-the art equipment.
The one physician most proficient at using the da Vinci robot left the JPS Health Network in January.
Dr. Sal Lococo, an OB-GYN oncologist, persuaded the JPS board to buy two of the da Vinci robots in 2007. He performed about 90 percent of the da Vinci procedures at JPS. His departure left JPS with too few doctors trained on the technology to keep both robots busy, and most doctors who know how to use the robot have practices closer to John Peter Smith Hospital, where the second da Vinci system is.
JPS officials say they are frantically training more physicians to use the equipment.
"Programs like this need a physician champion who will play a major role in telling other doctors about the benefits of the technology," JPS Chief Executive Robert Earley said. "Our champion, Dr. Lococo, left and now we've got to find a new champion."
JPS board Chairman Steve Montgomery was surprised to learn that the da Vinci robot at the 30-bed JPS Diagnostic & Surgery Hospital of Arlington was not being used.
"I am a big supporter of the technology, and I think we can get the second robot busy again," he said. "But it does not make me happy that no one is using it."
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