The Iberia Medical Center Board approved a plan to expand its new MAKO surgical robot use to include partial knee and full hip replacements at its meeting Thursday night.

According to Chief Executive Officer Dionne Viator, the opportunity to add the software and equipment needed to the hospital’s tool chest is a side effect of the coronavirus pandemic, which slowed sales of medical equipment.

According to the proposal, the manufacturer of the equipment, Stryker, would provide the additional tools with no cash up front as long as the hospital performs enough surgeries using the equipment for Stryker to earn income from other supplies over the next seven years.

“With the volume we are projecting, we may be able to finish this in five years,” Viator said.

Board member Dr. Kurt O’Brien called the deal a win-win for the hospital, the community and the vendor.

The board also heard from Lafayette General Health CEO David Callecod about the COVID-19 progress across Acadiana. According to Callecod, the area is seeing a resurgence of hospitalizations, but far less ventilator use. He also said that the increase in younger patients has shortened the average hospital stay to between four and seven days in a regular COVID room and seven to 10 days in an intensive care unit, but that is still long enough to create problems as the number of patients increases.

“These are not people who are going to be in and out in 24 hours,” Callecod said.

The board also approved a contract for Craig Hebert Engineering to guide the process for soliciting bids to replace the main campus hospital’s electrical panels and emergency generator system improvements. According to IMC Chief Operating Officer Shane Myers, the electrical upgrades would be the last part of the major upgrades planned under the money raised through a bond issue last fall.

“This should keep everything working for the next 20 years,” Myers said.

Dwayne Fatherree is the community editor for The Daily Iberian. He can be reached at dwayne.fatherree@daily-iberian.com.

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