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Sister City Medical Exchange Celebrates 19th Year

Medical Exchange.

Atrium Health Navicent and the Mercer University School of Medicine are hosting visitors this fall from Kurobe City Hospital for the 19th year of a unique medical exchange rooted in a 46-year sister city partnership between Macon-Bibb County and Kurobe, Japan.

Each year since 2003 — with the exception of a two-year pause during the COVID-19 pandemic — resident physicians, nurses and other health care providers from Kurobe City Hospital have visited Atrium Health Navicent and Mercer University, and physicians and nurses from Atrium Health Navicent and Mercer University have traveled to Kurobe City Hospital to share their knowledge and learn from their international counterparts.

Beginning with an initial visit Oct. 2 through Oct. 7, and lasting through December, medical residents will rotate through Macon, spending three to four weeks each visiting to experience the innerworkings of the American health care system.

“Health care is constantly evolving and we value this sister-city partnership which gives us an opportunity share and learn as we seek to improve health for patients both here at Atrium Health Navicent and in Kurobe,” said Atrium Health Navicent Chief Medical Officer Patrice Walker. “We are excited to welcome our visitors and look forward to supporting this partnership for many years to come.”

To date, 88 medical residents, 14 nurses and five health care providers from Kurobe have visited Macon-Bibb County, and 49 physicians and 22 nurses from Macon-Bibb County have visited Kurobe.

“We are delighted to come back to Macon this fall to continue the Macon-Kurobe medical exchange program. The exchange is in its 19th year and constitutes the core of our educational program for residents, nurses and other health care providers,” said Dr. Ryosuke Komiya, director of International Exchange Programs for Kurobe City Hospital. “We would like to give our gratitude to Delvecchio Finley from Atrium Health Navicent, Dr. Jean Sumner from Mercer University, as well as administration, faculty and staff on both sides, YKK, and Macon-Bibb County for showing understanding for this program.”

The sister city relationship between Macon and Kurobe was established in 1977 with the support of YKK, whose manufacturing headquarters is located in Kurobe. YKK’s Atlanta office opened in 1970, making it one of the first Japanese companies to set up operations in Georgia. YKK’s Macon plant opened in 1974. YKK remains an active supporter of this sister city relationship, including the medical exchange.


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