San Juan Regional Medical Center’s new surgical robot gets a new name

The Daily Times staff
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON – You know how it is when folks decide to give a new member of a team a nickname to use instead of a given name. That’s what happened to "Vinny" –  the da Vinci Xi Robotic Surgery System – a new addition to San Juan Regional Medical Center.

The hospital asked local kids to think up a better name. A panel of judges recently picked the handle “Vinny” from a pool of of 160 names sent in by school children across the Four Corners.

And there wasn’t just one winner. Two students from Farmington’s Hermosa Middle School sent in that name, and each got prizes.

The winners are Ali Hudgens, a seventh grader, and Jaxon Dynneson, who is an eighth grader.

Ali Hudgens and Jaxon Dynneson of Farmington’s Hermosa Middle School each sent in the winning name for San Juan Regional Medical Center's new surgical robot, so both won prizes after that name was selected.

The prizes they received included tickets to local family attractions, a San Juan Regional Medical Center commemorative coin, a plaque and the opportunity to visit the Operating Room and see Vinny in person.

“We are fortunate to offer robotic technology for the patients in our community and are excited to share our enthusiasm and passion for healthcare with the next generation,” said Surgical Services Director Starla Barela.  “We would like to say thank you to Ali and Jaxon for coming up with Vinny’s name, and to showcase the many possibilities a future career in healthcare can bring.”

San Juan Regional Medical Center held a ceremony for the winners last Thursday evening, and two surgeons who use the robotic surgery system during surgery talked about its benefits to patients.

“We are all united around this technology and our patients are seeing the benefit as well,” said General Surgeon Dr. Philip Ernest. “With the assistance of the Da Vinci, we are now able to offer surgeries that previously would have been referred out to another facility, allowing our patients to stay right here at home.”

 “The best surgery is the one your surgeon is most comfortable with, and for the new generation of surgeons coming in, this is what we are most comfortable with,” said Dr. Stephen Mannas, Urologist. “It can exceed our human abilities to do certain procedures and we are excited to bring that to Farmington.”

 Vinny is being used for many minimally invasive surgical procedures, the hospital’s news release said, with plans to expand the offerings in the near future.

To learn more about the da Vinci Xi, visit

SJRMC, a non-profit, acute care hospital, has a Level III Trauma Center and 198 licensed beds. More information is available at