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Dr. Bert Geer celebrates 25 years

Dr. Bert Geer has experienced many firsts in 25 years of practice in Cookeville.

He’s the first gynecologist to routinely do laparoscopic assisted vaginal hysterectomies.

He’s the first to do robotic hysterectomies.

He’s the first to offer urodynamics testing.

“When I started, labor and delivery was on the third floor, there was no robot and there was no same day surgery unit,” he said.

Geer came to Cookeville in 1997, joining OB/GYN Associates. At that time, Dr. Walter Derryberry, Dr. James Gray, Dr. Harry Stuber and Dr. Michael Pippin were in the group.

“I wouldn’t be where I am without Walter,” he said.

Geer spent the next 14 years in obstetrics, delivering numerous babies, some of whom are still his patients.

He opened his own clinic, Cookeville Gynecology and Urogynecology, in August 2011.

“It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time,” he said. “When I went through OB/GYN residency, there was no urogynecology subspecialty. I was fortunate to work with leaders in the field, and due to my strong interest decided to pursue it.”

Urogynecology is a specialized field of gynecology and obstetrics that deals with female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery. Urogynecologists diagnose and treat pelvic floor conditions, such as weak bladder or pelvic organ prolapse (a condition where the organs drop due to muscle weakness).

In 2011, the American Board of Medical Specialties approved the certification to make urogynecology its own subspecialty.

Geer became subspecialty board certified in 2014 and is the only urogynecologist in the region.

“We’ve seen about 20,000 patients, and I have completed over 1,700 robotic cases,” he said. “I’ve had patients come in from Florida, New York, Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio and Memphis. I’ve even had one patient from Minnesota call and inquire about seeing us for incontinence.”

He has been involved with the robotic surgery program nearly since its inception.

“The hospital administration approached me about doing robotic gynecologic procedures, but I was hesitant at first,” he said. “Then I watched a colleague of mine do a procedure on a 90 year old with the robot and I was amazed. It’s the best decision I ever made.”

Hysterectomies used to require opening the abdomen and a long recovery period. When he began doing robotic surgery cases, he made a goal to do the next 50 hysterectomies robotically.

“It’s so much more efficient,” he said. “Nationwide, 40-50 percent of hysterectomies are still done open. Here, one percent of those are done open. Some patients are back to work within two weeks instead of a six-week recovery. There’s less blood loss, less scarring and faster recovery time.”

Now, years later, the robotics program has come a long way.

“I’m the chairman of the robotics committee,” he said. “I’ve seen many surgeons come in for training. I’ve seen it advance so quickly. Patients recover so much faster, too.”

But he doesn’t jump into new things quickly.

“I embrace the technology, but I also look at the research that went into it, give it a fair shot and assess how it helps the patient,” he said. “I offer patient-focused care. That’s my goal.”

The surgical robotic system is more than a tool, he said.

“Our robotics program is becoming a role model for other programs across the country,” he said.

When the program began, there were only a few specialties offered: urology, gynecology and thoracic surgery. In addition to those three specialties, there are now surgeons trained in urogynecology, general surgery, E-N-T and weight loss surgery.

“I’m excited to see where this field goes,” he said. “There is so much new technology and techniques coming out. I love seeing the change in technology, the change in patient outcomes and the advancements in minimally invasive procedures.”

Cookeville Regional CEO Paul Korth says Geer’s forward thinking is a driving force in the hospital’s continued growth.

“With as many robotic procedures that he does per year, he brings a lot of value,” he said. “Congratulations on 25 years of excellent patient care and advancement.”

Listen to Dr. Geer talk about the innovation the hospital has seen over the years.

Dr. Geer talks about the importance of annual screenings for women.