St. Joseph expands surgical technology capabilities

Penn State Health is expanding the availability of its advanced surgical expertise to the Berks region this month, an effort bolstered by the generosity of a Berks County couple.

Ray and Carole Neag have pledged $2 million to Penn State Health St. Joseph for the acquisition of the da Vinci Xi® surgical system. The purchase gives St. Joseph the latest robotic surgery system in the region. The da Vinci Xi® is the next frontier for minimally invasive surgery and is especially capable of helping physicians perform highly complex surgeries.

“We are grateful to the Neag’s for their generosity and vision,” said John R. Morahan, CEO of Penn State Health St. Joseph. “Their transformational gift supports our commitment to bring the most advanced clinical technology to the residents of Berks County.”

Robotics-assisted Surgery—What is it, how it works:


Patients undergoing robotic-assisted surgery often have smaller incisions, less pain, less blood loss, fewer complications, less risk of infection, shorter hospital stays, and faster recovery, according to Dr. Stephanie Estes, Chair, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey’s Center for Robotic-Assisted Surgery.

“We are proud to be working together with the highly-trained robotic-assisted surgeons in the Berks Community,” Dr. Estes added.

The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center has employed minimally invasive, robotic-assisted technology across a range of surgical specialties including general thoracic, advanced gynecologic, surgical and urologic oncology and reconstruction, colorectal, and hepatobiliary surgery. St. Joseph will start by offering robotic-assisted OB/GYN associated procedures, and has plans to expand into other types of surgeries in the near future.

“We have several robotics systems across our health care continuum,” says Dr. Estes. “And while the technology gives us the capability to offer patients more options, more important is the qualifications of the people who operate these highly-sophisticated system. Surgical skill combined with the latest technology enables us to offer precise techniques across a spectrum of minimally invasive surgeries.”

Adds Dr. Timothy Grube, a gynecologist and the lead robotic-assisted surgeon at St. Joseph: “Robotics allows smaller incisions to be used during surgery, which means faster recovery and shorter hospital stays. We have unparalleled precision, dexterity and control, which means less tissue damage and less pain.”

About the da Vinci Xi®:

The advanced technology of the da Vinci Xi® is structured with four arms mounted on an overhead suspension, the surgical system can rotate to practically any position, giving surgeons even more flexibility and autonomy for the most straightforward surgery to the most highly complex case. In addition, the system is equipped with immersive high-definition, three-dimensional visualization, the latest in real-time fluorescence imaging, and advanced instrumentation, allowing for incredible accuracy all through the smallest incisions possible. The da Vinci® Surgical System is a surgical platform designed to enable complex surgery using a minimally invasive approach. The da Vinci® Surgical System consists of an ergonomic surgeon console or consoles, a patient-side cart with three or four interactive arms, a high-performance vision system and proprietary EndoWrist® instruments.

About Carole and Ray Neag:

The Neag’s financial support has benefited many organizations in Berks County and in other areas of the country. The Neags made a leadership gift in 2004 to St. Joseph’s Healthy Community Initiative. They made a second gift of medical technology to St. Joseph in 2009.

Ray Neag earned an international reputation as one of the four founders of Arrow International, Inc. , now Teleflex® Medical. Arrow combined technology and product innovation to extend the use of catheterization for the diagnosis and treatment of critically ill heart patients.

Carole Neag put her own imprint on healthcare, serving as an Emergency and Maternity nurse at Charlotte Hungerford Hospital in Torrington, Connecticut, and later worked with numerous facilities to implement Occupational Safety and Health Administration injury prevention standards. She continued her commitment to nursing by serving on the University of Connecticut School of Nursing Advisory Board.