WITH A DIVERSE AND DECORATED BACKGROUND IN MINIMALLY INVASIVE SURGERY, BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH, AND HEALTHCARE OPERATIONS, SIUH’S NEW CHAIR OF SURGERY BRINGS HIS SWEEPING EXPERTISE IN ANALYTICS, TECHNOLOGY, AND LEADING EDGE SURGICAL CARE TO THE ISLAND
BY AMANDA McCOY • PHOTOS BY AMESSE PHOTOGRAPHY
Growing up, Prashant Sinha, MD, a board certified leader in minimally invasive surgery and the recently appointed chair of surgery at Staten Island University Hospital, nurtured two passions. Born into a family of physicians, he developed an affinity for medicine at an early age, kindled by the “immediate gratification” of helping people regain their health. Naturally analytical, he was also drawn to engineering, an interest that took him to MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to obtain a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science. There he also studied biomedical research, and a career path that bridged both his passions began to take shape.
“My philosophy was to take the aspects I loved about both medicine and engineering and learn how to improve things through technology and operations,” noted Dr. Sinha, who, upon graduating from MIT, completed medical school at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and trained as a general surgery resident at Columbia University Medical Center, NYPH. From there, in addition to clinical training, he sharpened his tools in medical research, technology, and business development, all formative experiences for the young physician.
“I got the experience to work with both a healthcare tech startup, which explored ways we could do more healthcare deliveries through the web, and the biotech firm Boston Scientific, which taught me important lessons in how medical device companies integrate and how to develop new products. Through residency, I received a grant for robotics early on, before the technology had become widespread. Throughout all these experiences, I learned firsthand the integration between medicine and technology, and how it all comes together.”
When Dr. Sinha was appointed chair of surgery with SIUH this July, he brought an impressive background in sugical care, research, and continuous quality improvement which included positioning the NYU surgical program as one of the top in the country along with an ambitious plan for the department of surgery’s next chapter.
“Northwell called me because they wanted a dynamic change leader,” said Dr. Sinha, a longstanding Castle Connolly Top Doctor and fellow of the American College of Surgeons. “What gets me out of bed each morning is the thought around how we can change a culture; how do we get people to think about their roles in safety, and embrace their skills and technology to make their operations more efficient, which leads to better care and faster healing time. It’s about being a coach, a captain, and an active clinician, all at the same time.”
Dr. Sinha’s three primary objectives are to expand SIUH’s surgical programs through leading edge technology and education, to participate in additional areas of clinical research, and to continue to invest in ongoing quality improvement.
“My job is to show borough residents that we have a high level of quality and safety, and they have access to the same tools and outcomes as any competitor in the city or beyond,” explained Dr. Sinha. “In order to do that, my vision is to recruit people from all over the world. We have an exceptional amount of talented local physicians, but I find that by embracing diversity and attracting physicians from different parts of the world, we can infuse our culture with a lot of fresh ideas and strengthen our capabilities.”
In an effort to boost technology, the department is heavily investing in robotic surgery, adding two new state of the art surgical system robots in the North Campus and one in the Prince’s Bay campus, increasing the hospital’s ability to perform highly complex and minimally invasive robotic surgeries.
“Patients do incredibly well with robotic surgery,” noted Dr. Sinha. “I treated an 80 year old patient who had to undergo emergency colon surgery, which required a large incision. Three months later, I was able to go in with the robot, and remove all the scar tissue and complete the second stage of the operation with zero downtime. It’s a wonderful tool.”
The department recently hosted a ribbon cutting for a new hybrid operating room with navigation capabilities like X ray systems to perform highly complicated vascular surgery in the brain, neck, feet, aorta, and more. The hospital also implemented an advanced testing lab to improve diagnoses for notoriously difficult to detect conditions.
“Many people have intestinal issues, such as trouble when they eat, nausea, incontinence, and heartburn, and they are generally hard to diagnose. It’s challenging for the patients because they will bounce from one person to another to figure out what’s causing their issues. What they need is functional testing. This new lab gives us the ability to more accurately pinpoint the cause.”
Looking ahead, Dr. Sinha has plans to continue bringing in the latest minimally invasive tech, such as radio frequency and laser based tools, but he reiterated the importance of balance in improving the quality of care for Staten Islanders.
“The best part of what we do is not just providing the technology, but we’re smart in how we balance the amount we spend to provide the best care for our community,” said Dr. Sinha. “If we spend too much money too fast, we aren’t positioned to best take care of our population. For me, what’s important is lowering costs and improving quality to achieve better overall population health. The most rewarding aspect of my career is watching things improve, from patients regaining their health to the overall quality and safety of my department rising. Both are important: the health of the individual and the health of our community.”
Northwell Health Physician Partners
Surgery at Mason Avenue
256 Mason Avenue, Building C
(718) 226 6398 / siuh.northwell.edu/surger