Penn State Health St. Joseph expands surgical technology capabilities

October 09, 2017

HERSHEY, Pa. — Penn State Health is expanding the availability of its advanced surgical expertise to the Berks region this month, an effort bolstered by the generosity of a Berks County couple.

Ray and Carole Neag have pledged $2 million to Penn State Health St. Joseph for the acquisition of the da Vinci Xi surgical system. The da Vinci Xi is the next frontier for minimally invasive surgery and is especially capable of helping physicians perform highly complex surgeries.

Ray Neag earned an international reputation as one of the four founders of Arrow International, Inc., now Teleflex Medical. Arrow combined technology and product innovation to extend the use of catheterization for the diagnosis and treatment of critically ill heart patients.

Carole Neag put her own imprint on healthcare, serving as an emergency and maternity nurse at Charlotte Hungerford Hospital in Torrington, Connecticut, and later worked with numerous facilities to implement Occupational Safety and Health Administration injury prevention standards. She continued her commitment to nursing by serving on the University of Connecticut School of Nursing Advisory Board.

The Neags’ financial support has benefited many organizations in Berks County and in other areas of the country. The couple made a leadership gift in 2004 to St. Joseph’s Healthy Community Initiative, and a second gift of medical technology to St. Joseph in 2009.

“We are grateful to the Neags for their generosity and vision,” said John R. Morahan, CEO of Penn State Health St. Joseph. “Their transformational gift supports our commitment to bring the most advanced clinical technology to the residents of Berks County.”

Patients undergoing robotic-assisted surgery often have smaller incisions, less pain, less blood loss, fewer complications, less risk of infection, shorter hospital stays and faster recovery, according to Dr. Stephanie Estes, director of robotic surgery at Penn State Health.

"We are proud to be working together with the highly-trained robotic-assisted surgeons in the Berks community,” Estes added.

The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center has employed minimally invasive, robotic-assisted technology across a range of surgical specialties including general thoracic, advanced gynecologic, surgical and urologic oncology and reconstruction, colorectal and hepatobiliary surgery. St. Joseph will start by offering robotic-assisted OB/GYN associated procedures, and has plans to expand into other types of surgeries in the near future.

“We have several robotics systems across our health care continuum,” Estes said. “And while the technology gives us the capability to offer patients more options, more important is the qualifications of the people who operate these highly-sophisticated system. Surgical skill combined with the latest technology enables us to offer precise techniques across a spectrum of minimally invasive surgeries.”

Adds Dr. Timothy Grube, a gynecologist and the lead robotic-assisted surgeon at St. Joseph: “Robotics allows smaller incisions to be used during surgery, which means faster recovery and shorter hospital stays. We have unparalleled precision, dexterity and control, which means less tissue damage and less pain.”

The advanced technology of the da Vinci Xi is structured with four arms mounted on an overhead suspension. The system can rotate to practically any position, giving surgeons flexibility and autonomy for everything from the most straightforward surgery to the most highly complex case. In addition, the system is equipped with immersive high-definition, three-dimensional visualization, the latest in real-time fluorescence imaging and advanced instrumentation.

Gifts from Penn State’s alumni and friends have been essential have been essential to the success of the University’s historic land-grant mission to serve the public good. To fulfill that mission for a new era of rapid change and global connections, "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence" is focused on the three key imperatives of a public university. Private support will keep the doors to higher education open and enable students to graduate on time and on track to success; create transformative experiences on Penn State campuses and around the globe that tap the full potential of Penn Staters to make a difference; and impact the world through discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more, visit

Last Updated October 12, 2017