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2003 Press Releases
Morton Plant Hospital Unveils New Voice-Activated Operating Room Suites

CLEARWATER, Fla. (July 23, 2003)---"Lights On!" "Table Up!" "Camera On!" These phrases are now an everyday occurrence in Morton Plant Hospital's new high-tech operating room suites. These operating rooms integrate surgical device technology via voice activation and a central control system. By using simple verbal commands, surgeons can activate equipment, perform telesurgery, dictate notes and include photos to document findings with still pictures and/or motion video.

"Morton Plant Hospital is committed to providing the community with the highest level of health care using some of the most sophisticated medical technology such as minimally invasive procedures," said Hal Ziecheck, chief operating officer for Morton Plant Hospital. "Once again, Morton Plant is first in the Tampa Bay area to bring this leading technology to our patients and surgeons."

The hospital's new high-tech operating rooms are primarily used for minimally invasive procedures. As only small incisions are required to successfully perform the operation, minimally invasive procedures are less traumatic than conventional open surgeries. The surgeon visualizes the patient's anatomy and the operation via an endoscope with the images projected on a video monitor. "Minimally invasive surgery results in shorter hospital stays, faster recovery times and reduced procedural costs," added Ziecheck. "Morton Plant averages 4,000 minimally invasive surgeries a year."

The new operating rooms also have built-in surgical equipment and monitors that hang from the ceiling allowing greater mobility for staff and doctors during procedures. This suspended 'boom' system technology permits the physicians and staff to automatically move the equipment where they want it. This system not only makes room turnaround quicker, but is also an added safety feature.

"With direct voice control of medical equipment, surgeons can work more efficiently and effectively, said Scott Mantell, M.D., chairman of the department of surgery at Morton Plant Hospital. In effect, the technology gives doctors and staff an extra set of hands allowing them to concentrate on providing patient care rather than spending time waiting for commands and operating medical equipment."

The operating rooms, designed and built by Stryker Endoscopy utilize HERMES(tm), the world's first system capable of networking medical equipment in the operating room. HERMES gives surgeons voice-activated control over surgical devices. Each surgeon's voice is recorded on a voice card, which when inserted into a control center allows only that particular surgeon to activate the HERMES system. The technology allows Morton Plant Hospital's operating rooms to connect with other hospital campuses, conferences and secure computer networks via an integrated video/data routing system.

"Surgeons can teleconference during a surgical procedure for teaching or consultations. Digital routing allows surgical images, audio notes and other patient data to be directly downloaded to a secure patient file on a central server," said Ziecheck.

Established in 1916, Morton Plant Hospital is a 687-bed facility dedicated to improving the health of all it serves through community-owned health services that set the standard for high quality, compassionate care.

In 2002, Morton Plant was named one of America's Top 50 Hospitals, according to AARP Modern Maturity magazine and a 100 Top Hospital in the "Solucient 100 Top Hospitals: Cardiovascular Benchmarks for Success" study for the fourth consecutive year. Morton Plant was also named to the 100 Top Hospital Overall list in 2002. In 2000, HCIA-Sachs (now Solucient) named Morton Plant as the only hospital in the country to achieve 100 Top Hospital status in four categories - cardiovascular, stroke, orthopaedic and overall. In June 2003, Morton Plant Hospital-the second hospital in Florida--received "Baby Friendly" status from the World Health Organization/UNICEF.

In 2001, Morton Plant Hospital joined forces with H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute at the University of South Florida, Tampa to provide research and services for cancer patients. Morton Plant also offers a family practice residency program in conjunction with the University of South Florida's School of Medicine. Morton Plant Hospital is located at 300 Pinellas Street, Clearwater, Fla., 727-462-7000.


Contact: Phoebe Ochman/Beth Hardy

Morton Plant News Bureau

727 / 461-8117 Phone

727 / 468-7586 Pager