Lighting New Ways in Urology: What Sets Humber’s Program Apart?

February 25, 2021

Our Urology Program at Humber River Hospital is on a mission to provide the very best patient care. Over the years they have led Canadian hospitals in the adoption of several new innovations in their field, and have built a collaborative team ranging from seasoned, visionary leaders to young surgeons with extensive specialty training.

Our Program is set apart, not just by any one technology, but by the breadth of healthcare innovations we have available at the Hospital. Here are just five ways our Urology Program is lighting new ways in healthcare:

The da Vinci Surgical Robot: Minimally Invasive Surgeries

The da Vinci Surgical Robot is the centerpiece of the Murphy and Helen Hull Robotics Centre at Humber River Hospital. Our Robotics Program was first pioneered by Urologists Dr. Jack Barkin, Dr. Charles Radzinski, Dr. Peter Kong, and Dr. Luke Fazio. Today, use of the da Vinci at Humber has expanded to include General Surgery and Gynaecology.

Drs. Lee, Heimreith, and Leung

From left to right: Dr. Livia Lee, Dr. Olivier Heimrath, and Dr. Kevin Leung of Humber River Hospital’s Urology Program

“We are able to perform complex, minimally-invasive procedures using the da Vinci Surgical Robot,” says Dr. Kevin Leung. “The Robot allows us to operate without major incisions, so our patients experience faster recovery times and less pain. We are one of the only community-based hospitals in Canada to have one.”

“And as more Canadian hospitals begin using the Robot, Humber is set apart by our relatively easy access,” says Dr. Olivier Heimrath. “I have worked at university hospitals who have the robot, but it could take three months to book it for a procedure. At Humber we can book the da Vinci in a couple of weeks, so we can offer our patients a shorter turnaround time between diagnosis and treatment.”

Blue Light Cystoscopy: Cancer Detection

Blue Light technology helps Humber Urologists find difficult to detect cancer in the urinary tract and bladder. Thanks to donor support and Dr. Barkin’s leadership, Humber River Hospital was the first Hospital in Canada to use this technology and we continue to be a leader to this day.

“We inject the Cysview dye into a patient’s bladder prior to the procedure,” explains Dr. Livia Lee. “Under the Blue Light, hidden tumors glow hot pink, which makes it really easy to see against the blue. We have years of experience with Blue Light at Humber, so our Hospital has the physician and nursing expertise to support these procedures.”

Three Female Urologists: More Inclusive Healthcare

According to the Canadian Medical Association, only 11% of Urologists are women. At Humber River Hospital, our three female Urologists make up about a third of our team, which means we are in a better position to cater to all genders, religions, and comfort levels.

“Much of what we treat, including cancer, kidney stones, and bladder tumors are gender non-specific,” says Dr. Lee. “For patients from conservative backgrounds who prefer having a female physician, we have three. No one else in Canada has that capacity. As a group, we can provide comprehensive care to any patient.”

GreenLight Laser: Non-Surgical Prostate Treatment

Humber’s Urology Program was one of the first teams to use a tool called the GreenLight Laser to treat enlarged prostates in men. The laser can vaporize tissue blocking the prostate without the need for surgery.

“Thanks to the GreenLight Laser, our patients can go home same-day, and they don’t need to stop taking any medications like they would need to for traditional surgery,” says Dr. Leung. “The patient population that needs this procedure is typically more senior, and as a result more susceptible to prolonged hospital stays. It is tremendous that we are able to offer this as an outpatient procedure for them.”

COVID-19 Response: Balancing Safety with High Treatment Volumes

Humber’s Urology Program has been committed to maintaining treatment volumes throughout the pandemic, which has been made possible through routine COVID-19 tests for all Humber surgery patients, and through the amount of procedures that our Urology team offers same-day. Over 85% of our Urology procedures are now outpatient procedures, meaning that during the pandemic our Urology Program has needed fewer hospital beds, have had fewer cancellations from anxious patients, and have an increased capacity to make sure patients are still being looked after.

“All of our innovations at Humber, including technologies like GreenLight and the Robot, have meant that our patients can go home faster,” says Dr. Heimrath. “We have been able to continue to offer treatments while minimizing exposure. Even during these very unprecedented times we are performing a large volume of procedures for our patients, thanks to the technologies we use and the flexibility of our team. We are still providing lots of care.”

The da Vinci Surgical Robot is the centerpiece of the Murphy and Helen Hull Robotics Centre at Humber River Hospital.  The Centre was established thanks to a transformational donation from the late Murphy and Helen Hull.