The healthcare professionals here at Womack Army Medical Center are trained in various skills to take care of patients. They are expected to perform their duties to the best of their ability. What cannot be taught is passion for people. Womack’s vision includes just that. Readiness and taking care of people are at the center of everything done at the military treatment facility.
When Dr. Viet Nguyen, WAMC gastroenterologist and division of medicine chief, Dr. Vito Ciriglianlo, WAMC gastroenterologist chief and Dr. Katherine Hetz, WAMC robotics surgeon, set out to perform the acid reflux procedures, they focus on the advantages for the patient and how that would impact their life.
“I felt bloating and couldn’t sleep at night,” said WAMC patient, Sgt. Maj. Rich Robert, 3rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary). “The acid reflux woke me up several times at night.”
For Robert, after having acid reflux for 13 years, it became a way of life. He could not imagine what living in comfort was like until he had the Incisionless Fundoplication procedure and the hiatal hernia repair duel surgery.
“It’s hard to pinpoint a day that I could say I was miserable because I had been dealing with this for so long,” he said.
Doctors recommend this procedure when all options have been exhausted or it is an ideal situation for service members who may be downrange and have to carry acid reflux medications.
After years of prescribed and over-the-counter medicine, Robert could no longer allow this condition to give him constant abdominal pain and discomfort.
“This was the result I was expecting,” said Robert. “I didn’t know it was that big of a deal. Immediately, I could feel the difference after surgery. There is no reflux waking me up in the middle of the night and within the first four to five days, I was up and moving.”
“I am grateful for it,” Robert said. “This was the result I was expecting. I didn’t know it was that big of a deal, until it was gone.”

(Editor’s note: This is a series article that focused on three aspects of having a transoral incisionless fundoplication (TIP), a hiatal hernia repair via robotic surgery, and the patient perspective on experiencing severe acid reflux.)