JOPLIN, Mo. — A newer piece of technology at a Joplin hospital is putting out statistics that compare to big-city medical care.

“I felt some bubbling in my chest so I figured I’d go to the doctor. And, I was just told that there was something there when I had an x-ray.”

When Baxter Springs mom Patricia Herrera first went to the doctor, the first opinion she heard was stage four lung cancer and that it had spread.

“My experience was terrifying, but he treated me, not as a patient, but as family and a friend. Talked to me, talked me through it.”

She chose to have a procedure done with Dr. Grant Pierson at Freeman Health System using the Monarch Robotic Bronchoscopy.

“What we found out was not cancer, and I don’t want to botch the name what I have, but we have to monitor it,” said Herrera.

“Fortunately, most nodules are not cancer. Which is good, I don’t want them to be cancer. But, if they are, I want to be able to diagnose it early so they can actually get to treatment early, because that can save their life,” said Dr. Pierson.

Herrera’s procedure is one of 400 the piece of equipment has performed since June of 2021. Averaging around 170 cases a year, the numbers stack up big, even against larger metropolitan areas.

“If you compare us, where we’re looking at with this other places, like Chicago… bigger city. One of their hospitals up there just announced a couple weeks ago, they hit their 400th case.”

The camera is smaller to be able to see more than what traditional bronchoscopies might miss. In Herrera’s case, her recovery was next to nothing after the procedure, just the time it took to recover from anesthesia, so that she could get back to her six kids as soon as possible.

“Do not be apprehensive about this kind of technology. It is fantastic. It’s fast, there’s no downtime. I would have my kids do it if my kids needed something like this done.”

“It just helps us bring better care to patients and helps us get better answers.”