Firm Changes Face Of Operating Rooms

January 12, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — When surgeons say "let there be light" in operating rooms, Skytron, a Grand Rapids distributor of medical equipment, is standing by.

This year, Skytron, a leader among distributors of operating room lights, plans to market light-emitting diode (LED) lighting for operating rooms that offers several advantages over the halogen lights now typically in use, said Randy Tomaszewski, vice president of marketing for Skytron.

Halogen bulbs do a good job of providing the intense, bright light crucial to surgery, Tomaszewski said. But they consume a lot of energy and throw off a lot of heat.

"It (heat) is almost non-existent in LED and the (light) intensity is equal to what the halogen bulbs can produce. The LED light won't burn out for 10 years. It's the next state-of-the-art trend in health care," Tomaszewski said. "Every day you come in and turn it on, and it's not hot, it's very bright, it doesn't burn out, it's less to worry about. It's cool and comfortable to work under, even in extended cases like a cardiovascular case."

Skytron combs the globe for products that meet U.S. health care providers' needs, Tomaszewski said. For example, the LED technology comes from a supplier in Japan. Skytron works with close to 30 suppliers in Asia, Europe and North America, he said.

The privately held Skytron also is a leader in distribution of surgical tables, particularly for bariatric patients, and of the "booms" used in operating rooms. The booms are ceiling mounted, moveable arms that house equipment and technology, keeping it off the floor but still accessible. They can deliver medical gases, communications and electricity, Tomaszewski said.

Advances in surgery have meant that more equipment is required. For example, when operating through a scope, the doctors need a scope, a camera, a monitor, a light source, and power cords for everything.

"These are devices that take up a lot more space in the operating room," Tomaszewski said. "They used to roll those in on carts. They were always in the way. The nurses would roll them over their feet, they'd smack into walls that they couldn't see, they'd smack into surgical prep tables with all the instruments lying there that were sterile. Delivering them off the ceiling so they could articulate to the point of use and then be moved out of the way eliminated a lot of that traffic."

Booms are available for general operating rooms, as well as cardiovascular, labor and delivery, and emergency trauma rooms, he said.

Skytron also has kept an eye on statistics that show Americans are getting bigger and bigger.

"We also develop products in concert with our suppliers," Tomaszewski said. "Back in the mid-70s, we saw a need for heavy-duty surgical tables to handle larger patients." Skytron asked its Japanese supplier to create a table capable of holding 850 pounds. Today, Skytron distributes a surgical table — the leader for bariatric surgical rooms — that can handle 1,200 pounds.

"That's what the market demands," said Tomaszewski, who worked for 10 years as a registered nurse before earning an MBA and joining Skytron.

"We're always looking for the next best something that will complement what we do well already, to provide the best solutions we can for our customers. The bar is always raised. Technology continues to grow and develop, so we're always learning."    

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