Hospital makes history with LenSx

Published 6:58 pm Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Those folks in wheelchairs and wearing large, dark glasses at Vidant Beaufort Hospital on Tuesday were not making a fashion statement. They were helping to make history at the hospital.


They were among the 17 patients who underwent LenSx laser cataract surgery at the hospital Tuesdays. Tuesday was the first time the LenSx procedure was used at the hospital and the second time it was used in northeastern North Carolina, according to Dr. Jitendra Swarup with Washington Eye Center and Albemarle Eye Center.


“We did the first laser cataract surgery in the region, really the second hospital that anybody’s done this at in northeastern North Carolina. We did our first laser cataract surgery in northeastern North Carolina at Albemarle Hospital. We did the first LenSx laser cataract surgery here at (Vidant) Beaufort Hospital,” Swarup said after performing the 17 procedures. “It’s significant because laser cataract surgery patients for years have been talking about laser cataract surgery: ‘Are you doing surgery with a laser”’ It didn’t exist. Now, it does exist. It’s proven technology. It’s, in my opinion, very, very safe technology. We do a very safe procedure anyway. I’ve done over 30,000 cataract surgeries, and our complication rate is less than 0.1 percent. However, we try to push toward the zero percent as far as we can.”


Swarup said he believes laser cataract surgery is safer than cataract surgeries in which blades are used.


The actual laser cataract surgery takes about 6 minutes for each patient and there is minimal risk, Swarup noted.


“A laser is absolutely precise. It is exact every single time,” he said.


“What I did 10 years ago was state of the art then. What I do now was considered science fiction back then, but it’s state of the art now. … In general, eye surgery must be precise because there’s so little space for error inside of a human’s eye,” Swarup said.


Swarup said he’s happy this procedure made its way to the area. He said there’s no reason Washington and rural areas in northeastern North Carolina should not benefit from advances in medical technology.


“So, we are doing surgery that they cannot find anymore advanced anywhere in the country,” Swarup said. “And we’re good at it, by the way.”


“A little bit of history was made here today (Tuesday) because something like this hasn’t been done at any of the hospitals in the region, including (Vidant Medical Center in Greenville) or the surgery centers up there. Little Washington, Beaufort Hospital … had that little bit of history made today.”


Pam Shadle, the hospital’s manager of marketing, public relations and development, said the hospital is pleased that Swarup added the new technology and procedure to its medical services. She expects word of mouth will be effective in informing the community of the LenSx procedure.


“I think they’ve done a good job of promoting it as well,” she said.


About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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