Dr. Edgar Figueroa Offering Expert Advanced Robotics, Laparoscopic Surgical Services
By Maria Sonnenberg // June 8, 2015
'I always knew I was going to be a surgeon'
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Many Brevard residents owe their lives to Dr. Edgar Figueroa, who served as director of acute care surgery and trauma and surgical critical care at Health First’s Holmes Regional Medical Center.
Figueroa remains as the vice president of the hospital’s medical staff and chair of its Credentials Committee, but he has turned a new page on his medical career by striking out on his own to offer advanced robotics and laparoscopic surgery from his practice at 109 Silver Palm Avenue in Melbourne.
There is plenty of experience – and lots of talent – in his medical resume.
Born in Luquillo, on the foothills of the gorgeous El Yunque rain forest of Puerto Rico, Figueroa studied pre-med at the University of Puerto Rico before heading to the Universidad Central del Este, also in Puerto Rico, for his medical degree in 1980. He interned at Fajardo Regional Hospital, completed his residency in general surgery at Ponce Regional Hospital in 1992, is a Fellow of the American College of Surgery and is a member of the American College of Physician Executives.
Figueroa honed his surgical skills at Hollywood Medical Center, Memorial Regional Hospital Trauma Center and Mnt. Sinai Hospital, all in South Florida. He served as assistant professor of surgery and medical director at the University of Florida Health Science Center in Jacksonville.
He credits television for steering him towards a career in trauma surgery.
“I always liked to watch reruns of “Dr. Kildare” and wanted to be like him,” said Figueroa. “I always knew I was going to be a surgeon.”
In the late 90s, the University of Florida, where Figueroa had received an appointment in the College of Medicine’s Department of Surgery, launched a Level 2 trauma center at Holmes Regional Medical Center.
The project was brought about by the harrowing experience of local real estate broker Nancy Taylor, founder of Prudential Sterling Properties. Taylor, who had been involved in a near-fatal car accident in 1995, became a “poster girl” for the need for such a critical care facility.
“She almost died at the ER because there was no trauma center at the time,” said Figueroa.
A member of the Health First Foundation Board since the 90s,Taylor was instrumental in raising awareness and funds to launch the trauma center.
“Health First reached out to the University of Florida and that is how I got involved,” said Figueroa.
Figueroa also proposed incorporating acute care surgery into the trauma program creating an opportunity for the highly skilled general surgeons in the program to make their services available for in-hospital patient consults, which enhanced the timeliness of care for those patients resulting in safe, efficient and highly effective care.
“It produced incredible numbers and outcomes because here you had a group of trauma surgeons not only managing trauma patients, but also able to incorporate their skill sets into the care of some of the other sickest patients in the hospital,” said Figueroa.
SUPERIOR OUTCOMES FOR MANY SURGICAL PROBLEMS
These days, Figueroa focuses on robotic assisted surgery using the da Vinci Surgical System, which provides superior outcomes for many surgical problems including hernia, gall bladder and colon surgery. It’s a win-win approach for the patient and the physician, says Figueroa.
“There is less pain associated with the procedures and there is less chance of infection,” he said.
“Pain is still a big deal, even with minimally invasive surgery, but it is not with robotics, because you only have one incision site, and that’s in the belly button.”
With the da Vinci Surgical System, Figueroa uses a technology that has changed the surgical experience for many patients. The da Vinci robotics relies on a magnified three-dimensional vision system and tiny wristed instruments that bend and rotate far greater than the human wrist can. As a result, Figueroa is able to operate with enhanced vision, precision, dexterity and control.
Compared with traditional, or “open,” surgery, da Vinci surgery offers a shorter hospital stay, less blood loss, fewer complications, less need for narcotic pain medicine a faster recovery and minimal scarring because of smaller incisions.
Hundreds of studies in the last decade have demonstrated da Vinci’s improved surgical outcomes when compared to open surgery. More than 1.5 million surgeries worldwide have been performed using the da Vinci Surgical System.
Such superior results have resulted in a significant increase in robotics-assisted surgery.
“It has grown about 200 percent year-to-year nationally and about 300 percent in Brevard,” said Figueroa, who has been involved with minimally invasive surgery for more than two decades.
“There are a lot of open surgeries that can be avoided using robotics,” said Figueroa.
Currently, Figueroa has hospital privileges at Health First Holmes Regional Medical Center, but he is currently also considering Wuesthoff Medical Center Melbourne to use its da Vinci system there.
“I want to offer this option to everyone,” said Figueroa, who is happy to help patients regardless of their income.
During his time away from the office, Figueroa serves on the board of Devereux Florida, a provider of child behavioral health, intellectual/developmental disabilities and child welfare services, and helps wife Jerri with her charitable work, including Brevard Zoo and Health First Foundation fundraising events.
The couple have three adult daughters and an eight-year-old grandson.
For leisure pursuits, the Figueroas use their Viera home for quick getaways to Florida destinations such as St. Augustine and Epcot Center.
“It’s an easy way to have a mini-vacation,” said Figueroa.
According to the daVinci database, which records the volume of robotic surgeries done across the U.S., Figueroa is in the top 20 percentile of doctors who perform robotic surgery,
Dr. Jim Palermo, who was the Chief Quality/Medical Officer at Health First from 2002-2012 and practiced general surgery at Cape Canaveral Hospital for twenty years, said of Figueroa, “For over a decade, Ed has been the senior surgeon at Holmes Regional to whom many of the other general surgeons went for advice on difficult cases. Not only is he exceptionally skilled in the OR at both open and minimally invasive techniques, but brings extensive experience to the operating table that is so important in making surgical judgments under fire.”
“Experience truly matters, because this is Major League,” said Figueroa.
DR. EDGAR FIGUEROA brings more than 23 years of experience, advanced surgical skills and sage surgical judgment to the establishment of his private practice focused on state-of-the-art robotics and laparoscopic surgery. His new office is located at 109 Silver Palm Avenue in Melbourne, and he will be working out of both Health First and Wuesthoff hospitals. Dr. Figueroa is currently accepting new patients. For more information call 321-802-9954.