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Press Releases

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

PAC 14 to Air SurgeryFilmed at Peninsula Regional

class=""MsoBodyText"">SALISBURY, MD---As the doctor makes the first incision, his calm voice describing the steps in the procedure, the television screen switches to a close-up shot of the opened right knee.

class=""MsoBodyText"">What viewers are watching is not a Discovery Channel program. It’s a live surgery filmed in Salisbury at Peninsula Regional Medical Center, and they’re seeing it on PAC 14, a public access partnership between Salisbury University, the City of Salisbury and Wicomico County.

class=""MsoBodyText"">Dr. Pasquale Petrera, orthopedic surgeon, smiles for the camera as he performs and narrates the live operation for PAC 14’s program Focus on Health, hosted by Dr. Mary DiBartolo, faculty in SU’s Nursing department.  Similar to shows seen on the Discovery Channel, this is a first for PAC 14 and represents a new collaboration between the station, SU, Peninsula Regional Medical Center, Peninsula Orthopaedics and others.

class=""MsoBodyText"">“The best thing about this is the cooperation—Peninsula Regional Medical Center, the University and PAC 14 working together,” said station Production Manager Creig Twilley. “It was the result of people putting their resources and ideas together to benefit the community, and it demonstrates the power of public access television to provide locally originated programming to Wicomico County residents.”

class=""MsoBodyText"">Petrera’s idea for a live surgery started with his first appearance on Focus on Health, which has been a part of PAC 14 for the past five years. “He did a show with us on osteoarthritis and mentioned to us that he’d love to take a camera into the operating room,” said DiBartolo. She and PAC 14 jumped at the chance.

class=""MsoBodyText"">“To my knowledge, this is the first time a complete medical surgery from Peninsula Regional has been aired over local airwaves,” Twilley said.

class=""MsoBodyText"">Operating in front of a camera was nothing new for Petrera.  “It’s unusual, but where I trained they filmed a lot of live surgeries,” he said.  The doctor studied at Albany Medical College and had a fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh. He is board certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery and has had a practice in Salisbury since 1993, specializing in hip and knee replacements.

class=""MsoBodyText"">The PAC 14 knee replacement was filmed from different angles. Twilley held a regular full-sized camera at a distance from the operating table. A smaller one, called a lipstick camera, was mounted on head gear worn by Eric Eaton, a physician’s assistant who has worked with Peninsula Orthopaedics for 10 years.

class=""MsoBodyText"">Televised operations need to go perfectly and must be narrated during filming, Petrera said. The operating room is much quieter than during a regular surgery where they usually listen to music, anything from ‘70s hits to blues.    

class=""MsoBodyText"">But most other conditions remain the same. The program is graphic and shows up-close details. DiBartolo provides a warning at the beginning for squeamish viewers.

class=""MsoBodyText"">“When I first got into surgeries even I got a little queasy, but next the time you go back, you’re fine.” Petrera said.

class=""MsoBodyText"">Petrera and other members of the Orthopaedics Department at the Medical Center said they hope the program may help curious patients and even pique the interest of young, aspiring physicians and surgeons.

class=""MsoBodyText"">“It takes away that fear of the unknown. Patients already get a two-hour class before surgery and now they have the option to actually see the surgery as well,” he said. “An informed patient is a better patient because he or she knows what’s going on.”

class=""MsoBodyText"">Wendy Cathell, clinical manger of orthopaedics at Peninsula Regional said the program was an opportune way for the community to see the new procedures the medical center is capable of.

class=""MsoBodyText"">“It’s a big step in technology for our department,” she said. “We do a lot of new techniques that a lot of people don’t really know about. It’s a great way to show the public what we do on a daily basis.”

class=""MsoBodyText"">Petrera already has expressed an interest in filming another episode. “I’d like to do a hip replacement next,” he said. The knee surgery airs Thursday, August 4, at 9:30 p.m. and Saturday, August 6, at 9:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m.  The program will be repeated in subsequent days. For program information visit the PAC 14 Web site at "

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