Chilliwack General Hospital has acquired a brand new Olympus laparoscopy video system that will improve the quality of surgery, and recovery, for Chilliwack patients. (Jessica Peters/ The Progress).

New equipment at Chilliwack General Hospital means faster recovery

Chilliwack’s surgeons are seeing in high definition now, with the addition of new laparoscopic video equipment.

The hospital was able to purchase a whole new system, complete with a 55-inch screen capable of 4K definition. That’s about four times the definition of the previous 1080 pixels surgeons would work with for laparoscopic surgeries, such as hysterectomy and gall bladder removal.

And as for colour? The new cameras can pick up over a billion of them.

Chilliwack General Hospital is the first in B.C. to have this calibre of laparoscopy video equipment, and two of Chilliwack’s surgeons, Dr. Jan De Waal Smith and Dr. Richard Schwartz attending a small gathering on Tuesday night to speak to its benefits.

“At the end of the day, I’m not as tired,” Dr. Smith said. The larger screen and the increased pixel size means the surgeons can see more in-depth detail, and with less eye strain.

But the real virtues of this whole system has to do with their patients, the doctors told the group gathered at the hospital. The event was put on by the Chilliwack Hospital Foundation, which helped fund the purchase with a donation of $143,000.

It will mean that most patients who are treated with the new equipment will see faster recovery times, and even faster surgeries. For example, Dr. Smith said, while the healing time for a hysterectomy is about four to six weeks, with the new equipment it’s less than a month. One of the reasons is the tiny 4 mm wands — the main one outfitted with a lit camera and video cord — leave smaller incisions than is needed for more traditional surgeries.

The other reason is that one of the tools used by the machine is capable of cauterizing as the surgeons work. At the event, the crowd watched as a video played from a prior hysterectomy, and an Olympus technician demonstrated the equipment in action on a plastic model.

The other benefit will be decreased wait times for surgery. Because the surgery is faster — about 15 minutes faster per one and a half hour surgery — they can fit one more patient in each day. It’s a small gain on paper, but over time it could help speed up treatments.

John Jansen, president of the Chilliwack Hospital Foundation, said it’s through Chilliwack’s generosity that they were able to help the surgery department with this acquisition. Mayor Sharon Gaetz thanked Jansen and the rest of the foundation, and their donors, for their hard work.

“He had the vision of what it really takes to run a hospital,” Gaetz noted, adding that his Ministry of Health background has served him well in his role with the foundation.

“This is state of the art, and it’s only found here,” she said.


Dr. Richard Schwartz shares a laugh with Dr. Smith and John Jansen. (Jessica Peters/ The Progress)

A video playing of a hysterectomy. (Jessica Peters/ The Progress)