By Joe Jaskut
Piedmont Fayette Hospital has never been one to shy away from technology. Radiologists now use 3D imaging to help diagnose breast cancer, and surgeons use seeds the size of the tip of a pencil to help locate tumors and produce efficient surgeries that heal in times faster than ever thought possible. The hospital has also launched a state of the art electrophysiology lab, which can get a patient’s heart back in rhythm and surgeons can install tiny devices to keep it that way. For well over a decade, Piedmont Fayette has been one of the nation’s leaders in using robotic-assisted surgery for numerous procedures. Now, they will bring technology to the forefront of modern medicine once more.
It was close to midnight on January 8, 2018. Michael Burnett, CEO of Piedmont Fayette Hospital, was still pacing around his living room after Georgia’s devastating loss in the College Football National Championship Game to Alabama. Unable to wind down, he changed the channel from the Crimson Tide’s celebration and stumbled across Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 classic film, “Robocop.”
“What a movie,” Burnett said. “I was immediately sucked in to the storyline of a cop coming back from the dead to defeat the bad guy who killed him. I think I dozed a few times, but I saw enough to get my mind racing.”
The next day, fueling himself with gallons of coffee and his Robocop-inspired dreams, Burnett began approaching various surgeons and medical professionals at the hospital with his brilliant new idea. Piedmont Fayette, already lauded as one of the nation’s top hospitals, could turn the world on its ear by becoming a leader in bionics, cybernetics, and transferring man’s consciousness into the chiseled-steel body of a cyborg. Although many expressed reluctance upon first hearing Burnett’s plan, they eventually came around when they realized that their CEO would approve all purchases related to this project.
“Sure, making Robocops, or Robo- sales clerks, bakers, or doctors for that matter, seems a little, I don’t want to say crazy, because I really like working here, but…well, you find a word,” said Dr. James Franklin, Chief of Robotic Surgery at Piedmont Fayette. “But we can use all of those fancy robot-making tools to save real lives, too. So, if we have to make a few dozen cybermen a year to do that, I’m all for it.”
You can’t make human-robot hybrids over night, but Piedmont Fayette is well on its way to making Burnett’s dream a reality. The groundbreaking on the Piedmont Cybernetics and Bionics (PCB) building took place last month and Burnett was able to get actors Peter Weller, who played Alex Murphy/Robocop in the film, and Kurtwood Smith, who played bad guy Clarence Boddicker, to come to the event. Both men appeared to be genuinely confused by the groundbreaking, but happily signed autographs on Panama City Beach (PCB) stickers for those in the crowd.
“The film was kind of like a modern-day ‘Frankenstein,’ and I think that Mr. Burnett, like many others, misses the point of both that classic novel by Mary Shelley, and our film,” Weller said. “Science gives us the ability to do many wondrous and marvelous things, but just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.”
Presented with Weller’s quote, Burnett scoffed.
“Man is close to becoming a cyborg on his own,” he said. “We can wear glasses that can record what we see and provide us information in real time – like Robocop. We can wear headphones in our ears that allow us to listen and speak to people, no matter where they are in the world – like Robocop. And we can attach our brains to control a cybernetic creature, armed with top of the line weapons and superhuman strength – like Robocop.”
Piedmont Fayette is already taking orders for bionic upgrades. If you are interested in becoming a human-robot hybrid, call 555-5555.