As the sun’s first light glistened across the waves rolling onto Melbourne Beach, the new dawn embarked a new era for Brevard County. Before space shuttles and hotels, there were dirt roads and farms. With less than 20,000 residents, it took a few dedicated individuals to improve the future. Because on June 8, 1937, Brevard opened its first hospital on US 1.

This small group of devoted citizens had a modest idea to make health care local. Recognizing the needs of the future, the community and clinicians joined together to provide resources for healing. And for more than 80 years, this commitment has been the guiding light to becoming a nationally recognized Integrated Delivery Network (IDN) dedicated to putting our health first. Now with more than 170,000 health insurance members, four hospitals, more than 350 physicians, and outpatient services to meet our healthcare needs, Health First once again is working hand-and-hand with the community to provide advanced life-saving technology to the residents
of Brevard.

This new era of advanced health technology is made possible because of the generosity of Brevard residents through the Health First Foundation when in July, Brevard opened its first  Hybrid Operating Room(OR). A  Hybrid OR will dramatically change surgical treatment as we know it and was made possible through  years of hard work and more than $2 million in donations and community support. The outpouring of generosity from the community is what made this possible and the gestures of so many represents the continued commitment of Brevard residents to improve its health and well-being.

Unlike a typical operating room, a  Hybrid OR combines a traditional operating room with advanced imaging technology for instant accessibility to the surgical team. “The  Hybrid OR provides the capabilities for physicians of different specialties to work side-by-side at the same time,” said Dr. Tamim Antaki, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Health First. “Brevard County residents will have advanced technology and state-of- the-art care close to home.”

Aaron Robinson, CEO, community hospitals, and service line leader for heart and vascular services at Health First, assisted in bringing this technology to the residents of Brevard. “Before Health First opened the  Hybrid OR we would have to travel hours for this type of technology. For those seeking help, it would cause additional stress and financial strain on the families with hotel stays and other expenses. With the  Hybrid OR here, families can rest easier knowing their loved ones are receiving high-quality, safe care down the street from where they live,” Robinson said.

But this is much more than just giving a doctor a leading-edge room to perform surgeries, it is a team effort to develop and assemble experts to apply multiple technologies for the betterment of their patients. The imaging allows surgeons and cardiologists to perform procedures with advanced precision using 3D technology. Computed Tomography (CT)-level imaging enables physicians to evaluate procedure results before leaving the  Hybrid OR and potentially eliminates the need for additional diagnostic testing after surgery. Combining advanced imaging with a sterile surgical setting means surgeons, cardiologists and interventional radiologists can collaborate in real time to provide comprehensive surgical and imaging care in one place. The goal is more minimally-invasive surgeries and for patients, it could mean less pain, shorter recovery time and smaller wounds.

Creating an environment of cooperation is essential to improving the health of a community. Physicians, surgeons, technicians and administration all with the singular focus of improving Brevard County is what makes this technology possible. “This  Hybrid OR will allow us to elevate cardiovascular care in Brevard County, and will assist cardiovascular surgeons and other providers streamline their advanced, state-of-the art treatments by allowing multiple disciplines to work simultaneously.” Antaki said.

“The combination of imaging and surgical setting found in Health First’s Hybrid OR will provide physicians the capability to provide complex surgeries in a minimally invasive fashion.” – Dr. Tamim Antaki, Health First Cardiothoracic Surgeon

Antaki says to prepare for using the  Hybrid OR, teams train and perform simulation surgeries together. Cath lab technologists will scrub in next to surgical technologists, while cardiologists are scrubbing in next to cardiothoracic surgeons. It’s all a truly collaborative approach. “Our vascular surgeons, cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, operating room associates, cath lab associates, radiology technologists and more – all worked together on the development of the  Hybrid OR,” Antaki added. “This was a highly collaborative effort.”

Ultimately, this will improve care outcomes and benefit the community of patients, and will make Brevard County a destination for receiving national leading treatment. “The  Hybrid OR offers flexibility around converting cases when necessary and will benefit the community by providing the most cutting-edge technology and advanced procedures in the region,” continued Robinson. The  Hybrid OR is versatile and has the capacity to also be used in thoracic and neurosurgery procedures. The imaging capabilities provide information to perform any complex surgery that will benefit from
3D imaging.

“The future of surgery is all minimally invasive,” concluded Antaki. “The combination of imaging and surgical setting found in Health First’s  Hybrid OR will provide physicians the capability to provide complex surgeries in a minimally invasive fashion.”

One thing is clear: Health First is Brevard. Clinicians continuing their partnership with the community for more than 80 years. With ongoing investments in technologies and expertise that honor the modest idea of those few, so long ago, make health care local. Health First is committed to extending beyond its mission statement and will continue to improve the health and well-being of our community. Every person, every time.

Tamim Antaki, MD, FACS

Cardiothoracic Surgery

Board certified by the American Board of Thoracic Surgery and the American Board of Surgery, Dr. Antaki received his medical degree from Aleppo University Faculty of Medicine in Aleppo, Syria. His residency in surgery was completed with Aleppo University Hospital in Aleppo, Syria and his residency in general surgery was completed with New York Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn.  He also completed a research fellowship and clinical fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in
Little Rock.

Antaki has extensive medical experience, spending the past seven years as a surgeon with Union Hospital Medical Group in Terre Haute, Indiana. He also ran Arkansas Heart and Lung, his own private
practice in Little Rock.

Additionally, Antaki has academic experience as a joint appointment tenured faculty and staff surgeon with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Central Arkansas Veterans Health System. He also gained academic and leadership appointments with the University of Arkansas as chief for the division of cardiothoracic surgery, associate professor of surgery, assistant professor of surgery and thoracic surgery residency director. He was volunteer assistant professor at Indiana University and chief section of cardiothoracic surgery with the VA Administration at Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare
System in Little Rock.

Antaki has special skills and interests with mitral and aortic valve repair, non-sternotomy, minimally invasive mitral surgery, robotic assisted cardiac and thoracic surgery using daVinci platform, aortic root and thoracic aortic surgery, thoracoscopic mini-maze operation for atrial fibrillation, robotic lung, and thoracoscopic left atrial appendage management. He also has extensive experience with cardiac pacemaker and defibrillator surgery, including complex and routine pacer and defibrillator implantation and LASER extraction, and device leads management. In thoracic surgery, Antaki is skilled in minimally invasive and VAT lobectomy (including use of daVinci platform), electromagnetic navigational bronchoscopy and management of pulmonary nodules, airways stenting and esophageal surgery. In vascular surgery, his skills include endovascular aortic aneurysm repair (EVAR), other endovascular surgery techniques (including dialysis access surgery), carotid surgery, aortic and peripheral vascular surgery (including distal bypass).

Well published in medical publications and a popular speaker in his field nationally and internationally, Antaki is a member of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the American Heart Association, Thoracic Surgery Directors Association, the American Medical Association, the Arab American Medical Society, the Syrian American Medical Society and the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation. He is also a fellow with the American College of Chest Physicians and the American College of Surgeons.

Antaki practices in Melbourne Florida, and is married with five children.

Matthew Campbell, MD, FACS

Cardiothoracic Surgery

Matthew Campbell, MD, FACS, is board certified in thoracic surgery, general surgery, and vascular surgery. He is fellowship-trained in vascular surgery and thoracic surgery. His professional interests and focuses include aortic valve replacement, mitral/tricuspid valve repair and replacement, aortic aneurysm surgery, both endovascular and open, coronary artery bypass surgery, robotic lung and mediastinal tumor resections, and open and endovascular surgery.

Campbell earned his medical degree from the Hahnemann University School of Medicine in Philadelphia. He completed his residency in general surgery at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, followed by accredited fellowships in vascular surgery from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and thoracic surgery from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

Ulfur T. Gudjonsson, MD

Cardiothoracic Surgery

Board certified in surgery with specialty certification in thoracic and cardiac surgery, Dr. Gudjonsson received his medical degree from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He completed his surgery internship and general surgery residency with the Naval Medical Center in San Diego. His cardiothoracic surgery residency was completed with Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. He also earned his Bachelor of Arts in biology from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota.

Gudjonsson has extensive medical and surgical experience working most recently as a cardiothoracic surgeon with Indiana University Health Bloomington, where he established a lung cancer screening initiative for Bloomington and five surrounding counties and a minimally-invasive lung resection program and IU Health Methodist. In Bloomington, Gudjonsson was one of three certified cardiac surgeons involved in the highly successful IU Health TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve replacement) program, which treated over 150 patients over three years with less than one percent
stroke incidence.

He also served as chief of cardiothoracic surgery for South Georgia Medical Center in Valdosta, and surgeon and assistant professor for Athens Regional Medical Center/Emory University in Athens, Georgia.

Gudjonsson also has a stellar military medical background, reaching the rank of Lieutenant Commander and working for the U.S. Naval Hospital in Keflavik, Iceland as the surgical department head and as the ship surgeon for the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier, homeport Yokosuka, Japan. He was also head medical officer for the USS Tarawa amphibious assault ship, homeport San Diego.

His areas of interest include transcatheter aortic valve replacement with special interest and expertise in subclavian and non-sternal splitting approaches in patients with hostile iliofemoral anatomy, aortic valve replacement via manubrial split off pump coronary bypass, maze procedure, thoracoscopic lobectomy and aortic root replacement.