Registered nurse Richard Esquivel escorts a patient to the same-day surgery operating room at Mission Trail Baptist Hospital on San Antonio’s Southeast Side on Jan. 16, 2019.Photo: Kin Man Hui /Staff photographer

Responding to a jump in surgeries, Mission Trail Baptist Hospital is expanding services to serve more patients in Southeast San Antonio.

The 110-bed hospital unveiled this week a robot for minimally invasive surgeries and two operating suites for outpatient surgical procedures.

The additions were introduced in response to a 13 percent increase in surgery volume from 2016 to 2017, Mission Trail officials said.

“The community’s growing, and we need to be able to grow with the community,” said Dr. Kevin Kirk, Mission Trails’ chief of staff and an orthopedic surgeon.

The expansion will position Mission Trail to better accommodate projected population growth in its service area.

As the city’s southernmost hospital, it sees patients from neighboring Atascosa and Wilson counties, as well as the Rio Grande Valley.

Mission Trail opened in 2011 as a new location in the Baptist Health System. Situated on the Brooks campus near Southeast Military Drive and South New Braunfels Avenue, it replaced the system’s Southeast Baptist Hospital on Southcross Boulevard.

The upgrades at Mission Trail will reduce pressure on the hospital’s operating rooms, which at times have neared capacity, leading to patient transfers to other hospitals, Kirk said.

As part of the expansion, the hospital installed the pair of surgical suites on its second floor, which now will operate as an outpatient surgical center for less severe cases.

The updates also include the addition of six pre-operative bays and three bays for patients who have undergone anesthesia. The additions will free up the four main operating room for the most acute-care patients, Kirk said.

The robot’s arrival marks the first time such technology has been available to patients on the South Side, said Dr. Phillip Hamby, chief of surgery at Mission Trails.

It will attract more specialists to the hospital who train largely or exclusively on robots for their procedures, including in urology and gynecology, he said.

“That gives the community another advantage. It’s a good thing, and it’s progress,” Hamby said.

Together, the improvements at Mission Trail will allow more South Side residents to seek medical care closer to home, officials said.

Mission Trail also recently added a new heart protocol that allows patients suffering a heart attack to be treated at the hospital rather than be redirected elsewhere, Hamby said.

“Health care is local, and people want to stay within a certain radius to seek basic health care services,” said Brandon Fowler, Mission Trail’s chief strategy officer.

Transfers to other hospitals can be difficult for some families on the South Side, many of whom face economic hardships and may not have access to transportation, Kirk said.

“They don’t have the luxury of jumping in their car and driving to the North Side or to the Medical Center,” he said.

Article originally published here: San Antonio hospital on Southeast Side expands services amid increased demand for surgeries