Skip to Content

Get Vaccinated/Tested

Lee Health is now vaccinating anyone age 5+. Click here for scheduling options. Click here for a list of COVID testing sites in our community.

Default Alt Text for the banner

Lee Health Bolsters Surgical Services with Innovative Robotic Program

Press Releases

(Fort Myers, Fla. – Nov. 18, 2021) --- While already in the hospital for sepsis, Gabe Jolivet underwent a routine magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan and received news that was anything but routine: “You have cancer.”

Radiologists found a mass on Gabe’s pancreas. As his physician began planning treatment, Gabe learned he was a candidate for da Vinci robotic surgery, an innovative approach to minimally invasive surgery.

“I feel really blessed; everything went so smoothly,” said Jolivet. “When I think about what the alternative could have been – a large incision, more pain, a longer stay in the hospital – I realize just how lucky I am. Surgeons were able to remove the entire mass, and I’m doing great.”

Gabe is one of the many patients in Southwest Florida to benefit from Lee Health’s robotic-assisted surgery program, which features the most advanced technology in the field of robotic surgery – the da Vinci Xi Surgical System.

The da Vinci robot is designed to help surgeons perform minimally invasive surgeries, such as colorectal surgeries and unique surgeries in the areas of gynecology, urology, ear nose and throat and general surgery.

Lee Health recently expanded its innovative robotic program by adding da Vinci robots to all of its four acute-care hospitals to better meet the need in our region for minimally-invasive surgery. Since Lee Health began bolstering its robotics program late last year, the health system has added four new da Vinci robots to the program, bringing the total number of machines from two to six.

“We wanted to create a true program of excellence in robotic surgery for the patients we serve in our community,” Dr. Jonathan Velez, chief physician and operations executive for Gulf Coast Medical Center. “At Lee Health, we have tripled the number of da Vinci robots we have and that has allowed us to really grow our program to best meet the needs of our patients.

“Now that we’ve increased our robots, we’ve seen a lot of local patients remain local. They don’t have to travel outside of the region to get this kind of innovative surgery.  We’ve also attracted surgeons from all sorts of specialties to train on the robots. What the da Vinci does is nothing short of amazing.”

The procedure is performed entirely by a surgeon who controls the system. The tiny wristed instruments on the da Vinci move like a human hand, but with a greater range of motion. The da Vinci vision system also delivers highly magnified, 3D high-definition views of the surgical area. The instrument size makes it possible for surgeons to operate through one or a few small incisions, and the instruments are designed to give surgeons greater reach during surgery.

The benefits include faster recovery times, less pain, less use of narcotics, and fewer patients who have to leave the community to get this type of surgery.

“After my surgery, I was amazed at how wonderful I felt and how quickly I could go home,” said Jolivet. “I walked out of the hospital with small incisions and hardly any pain. Overall, I had a smooth recovery, and I couldn’t be happier.”

The da Vinci robots were funded by the Lee Health Foundation thanks to generous donors in our community, including Lex and Eileen Roulston.

To learn more about Lee Health’s robotic surgery program, visit www.leehealth.org.