Tyler Reed of Bowling Green got to play surgeon Thursday at Greenwood Mall, where he tried a simulator for the da Vinci robotic surgical system, a new piece of equipment at TriStar Greenview Regional Hospital. 

As Reed sat at a console maneuvering controls with his arms, the robot’s arms moved in coordination several feet away. 

“I actually enjoyed it a lot,” Reed said. “I’d love to see what it’s like in a surgeon’s hands. It has an organic feel to it. It feels like I’m manually in there with my hands.”

The first surgery with the da Vinci robot isn’t scheduled until next month, but Greenview set up the simulator in the mall Thursday to give the public a glimpse of how it works. 

“We really want the community to know that it’s out there and it’s available,” said Jennifer Callan, robotics coordinator for Greenview.

The da Vinci system, the highest level of robot technology approved by the Food and Drug Administration, can be used in a number of soft tissue surgeries from the neck to the genital area, Callan said. It makes for a better surgery for both the doctor and the patient. It gives surgeons a 3-D, high-definition view of the surgical area at 10 times magnification and offers more precision.

“It actually has more range of motion than a human wrist,” Callan said. 

For the patient, the robotic system means less pain, less blood loss and less recovery time.

“It returns people to normal functions quicker,” Callan said. 

The da Vinci is a $1.5 million investment for Greenview, but the hospital won’t charge more for surgeries performed with the new technology.

“It’s not like we’re expecting to make money off this,” Callan said. “We’re bringing this in because it’s good for patients. It’s the right thing to do. It’s about patient care.”

Doctors at Greenview have trained with the robotic system for several months, using many of the same simulations as the public got to try at the mall Thursday.

“When you sit at the console and see what the surgeon sees, it’s intense,” Callan said. 

Navajo Vincent of Oakland had fun with some of the practice exercises on the simulator, which included picking up jacks and placing them in a basket, but she knows the system is not a game for surgeons.

“The doctor has to be awful smart to operate on somebody like that,” she said. “They’ve got to be really good.”

— Follow faith/general assignments reporter Laurel Wilson on Twitter at twitter.com/FaithinBG or visit bgdailynews.com.