NEW JERSEY EYE CENTER - WHERE MODERN CATARACT SURGERY STARTED!
Did you know where modern cataract surgery started? The answer may surprise you. Right here in Bergen County, New Jersey. In 1978, Dr. Joseph Dello Russo introduced the first eye center in the Northeast that made cataract surgery available outside of a hospital.
Prior to this event, cataract surgery had always been performed at a hospital, involving a three to five day hospitalization. It occurred to Dr. Dello Russo that there was no need to hospitalize a person to simply make use of the operating room for surgery. People who had minor surgery were not hospitalized, however patients with cataracts were.
Beginning in 1975, Dr. Dello Russo admitted patients the night before surgery but began to discharge them about two hours after surgery. After a period of time, patients did not even have to arrive the night before. They simply checked in at the operating suite of the hospital. Dr. Dello Russo performed the procedure, and discharged the patient right after surgery.
Patients were very happy. Dr. Dello Russo had proven that there was no need for hospitalization before or after cataract surgery. All that was needed was an operating room.
He studied the state health laws with health attorneys and discovered that he could convert a section of his office into a legal surgical suite. When the nurses in the local hospital went out on strike for about three months the doctor decided to act and was actually operating in his office before the strike was over. Thus, office Ambulatory Cataract Surgery was created, the first in the North-Eastern part of U.S.A.
Despite early criticism, patients and insurance carriers approved this method since it saved money. Outpatient surgery centers started to flourish throughout the US and abroad. Over the course of a few years, Medicare approved the procedure and begain paying facilities that performed the surgery, although at a lesser fee than a hospital.
Thanks to the vision and work of Dr. Joseph Dello Russo, cataract surgery became an outpatient procedure. Patients spend a couple of hours in the comfort and convenience of a state of the art facility and are not at risk for hospital-based complications like infection. In a modern facility such as the New Jersey Eye Center, a board certified anesthesiologist watches over the patient the entire time before, during, and after the procedure.
Eventually outpatient centers became the standard of care and in fact these centers began to blossom throughout the nation and abroad. In fact the New York Times featured Dr. Dello Russo’s accomplishments in outpatient centers in 1981, as a pioneer in ambulatory centers.
The New Jersey Eye Surgery center is one of the nation's most experienced and well-equipped centers of its kind, with surgery now performed by two cataract surgeons. A book was written about outpatient surgery in this eye center.