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Atrium Health Navicent, Mercer University School of Medicine Host Kurobe City Hospital Delegation in Sister City Medical Exchange

Sister city medical exchange celebrates 18th year

Atrium Health Navicent and the Mercer University School of Medicine are hosting nine visitors from Kurobe City Hospital for the 18th year of a unique medical exchange rooted in a 45-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. Two visitors from Kurobe traveled to Macon earlier this year for an administrative visit in preparation for the larger team’s arrival this fall.

To date, 81 medical residents, 15 nurses and five health care providers from Kurobe have visited Macon-Bibb County, and 52 physicians and 20 nurses from Macon-Bibb County have visited Kurobe. Online meetings have continued during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are excited to resume these visits and continue our sister-city partnership, sharing knowledge and our common purpose to improve health. In addition to the health care knowledge sharing, the cultural exchange between the visitors is invaluable,” said Atrium Health Navicent Chief Medical Officer Patrice Walker. “We’re proud to welcome back Dr. Ryosuke Komiya, director of International Exchange Programs for Kurobe City Hospital, for this visit as he was one of the first medical residents to visit Macon in 2005 when the exchange program began. This is truly a special visit as the program has come full circle.”

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.

“We are delighted to resume the in-person exchange program. The exchange is in its 18th year and is the heart of our residency program,” Komiya said. “We would like to give our gratitude to Mr. Delvecchio Finley from Atrium Health Navicent, Dr. Jean Sumner from Mercer University, administration, faculty, and staff on both sides, YKK, and Macon-Bibb County for supporting this program.”

About Kurobe City Hospital

Since its opening in 1949, Kurobe City Hospital, the main hospital in the Niikawa Medical Care District and in collaboration with other medical, health and welfare institutions, has aimed to strengthen its capabilities to treat five diseases (cancer, stroke, acute myocardial infarction, diabetes, and mental illness) and has sought to strengthen five departments (emergency medical care, disaster medical care, medical care in remote rural areas, perinatal medical care, pediatric medical care). The motto of the hospital is “Daily Contemplation,” defined as thoughtful medical care for patients backed up by medical research and ingenuity.

About Atrium Health Navicent

Atrium Health Navicent is the leading provider of healthcare in central and south Georgia and is committed to its mission of elevating health and wellbeing through compassionate care. Atrium Health Navicent provides high-quality, personalized care in 53 specialties at more than 50 facilities throughout the region. As part of the largest, integrated, nonprofit health system in the Southeast, it is also able to tap into some of the nation’s leading medical experts and specialists with Atrium Health, allowing it to provide the best care close to home – including advanced innovations in virtual medicine and care. Throughout its 125-year history in the community, Atrium Health Navicent has remained dedicated to enhancing health and wellness for individuals throughout the region through nationally recognized quality care, community health initiatives and collaborative partnerships. It is also one of the leading teaching hospitals in the region, helping to ensure viability for rural health care for the next generation. For more information, please visit