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We're currently conducting an evaluation of Lee Health's business structure. Explore all available documents and dive deeper into the process by learning more here. Lee Health’s Board of Directors invites you to a public hearing, set for Thursday, April 25th in the Community Room at Gulf Coast Medical Center, to discuss the ongoing evaluation of converting the health system to a community-focused nonprofit structure. Learn more details here.

Why Robotic Surgery Could Be the Right Choice for You

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Author name: Lee Health


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While already in the hospital for sepsis, Gabe Jolivet underwent a routine 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,” Gabe says. “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 helps 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.

Since Lee Health began bolstering its robotics program within the past year, the health system has added four new da Vinci robots to the program. The program now has six machines.

“We wanted to create a true program of excellence in robotic surgery for our patients,” says Dr. Jonathan Velez, chief physician and operations executive for Gulf Coast Medical Center. “We’ve tripled the number of da Vinci robots we have. The increased number of robots helps keep more of our patients in the community.

“Now, 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.”

How Does it Work?

The procedure is performed entirely by a surgeon who controls the system. The tiny 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,” Gabe says. “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

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