By Bill Hendrick

St. Joseph’s Health System has started a nonprofit training center for robotic surgical teams from around the world.

The launch of St. Joe’s International College of Robotic Surgery (ICRS) was announced at the annual meeting of the Society for Thoracic Surgeons.

“We have seen the tremendous benefits to patients from robotic-assisted surgery since we began our program in 2002,” said Kirk Wilson, the president and chief executive officer of St. Joseph’s Health System, based on Pill Hill, at Johnson Ferry and Peachtree-Dunwoody roads in Sandy Springs. “Robotics will become the standard of care, and we want to help other surgeons and their surgical teams learn and actively use the technology so they can work with their hospitals to develop strong, viable programs for patients.”

The robotic college will be led by Douglas Murphy and Sudhir Srivastava, two of the nation’s top cardiothoracic surgeons.

The college will provide training for the daVinci Surgical System, which is being used increasingly around Atlanta and the world.

“ICRS will provide consistent, initial and long-term support for surgical teams that isn’t currently available,” Murphy said. “Over the last five years, I’ve trained many surgical teams, and it has been tremendously expensive and time-consuming.”

ICRS programs also will be available online and, by using interactive communications technology, will come with ongoing remote proctoring support until the surgeon and his team feel confident with the robotic system.

St. Joseph’s Hospital says it has the most comprehensive robotic surgery program in the Southeast and performs the most cardiac procedures. Robots also are used for prostate and gynecological procedures.

“We’ve done more than 1,000 robotic surgeries since the program started in 2004,” hospital spokeswoman Lynn Peterson said. “Every training program is customized for the client’s unique needs.”

She said training won’t be done in classes, but “one on one.”