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Macon-Bibb County Welcomes Kurobe City Hospital Delegation for 16th Year

Navicent leaders meet with Kurobe city mayor

Unique Medical Exchange Fosters Partnership, Idea Exchange Between Sister Cities

On October 21, Atrium Health Navicent and Mercer University School of Medicine welcomed six physicians, one nurse and one dietician from Kurobe City Hospital for the sixteenth year of a unique medical exchange between Macon-Bibb County and its sister city of Kurobe, Japan.

Each summer, between May and September, three physicians and two nurses from Atrium Health Navicent visit Kurobe City Hospital for two weeks each to share their knowledge and experience of the American healthcare system with young physicians and nurses at Kurobe City Hospital and to learn about the Japanese healthcare system. Then, between September and January, six resident physicians, one nurse and one healthcare provider from Kurobe City Hospital visit Atrium Health Navicent and Mercer University for four weeks to observe American physicians in action and experience American healthcare firsthand.

To date, 81 residents and healthcare providers, 14 nurses and 5 paramedics from Kurobe have visited Macon-Bibb County, and 44 doctors and 20 nurses from Macon-Bibb County have visited Kurobe.

"This has been a long-time partnership and exchange built on knowledge transfer for the mutual benefit of all partners. Beyond the formal goals of this partnership is a special bond which connects us with each other, a profound and meaningful cultural exchange," said Dr. Ninfa M. Saunders, President and CEO of Atrium Health Navicent.

"Our residents, nurses and faculty were greatly inspired by your visit. When we started this program in 2003, the major purpose was to give assistance to our residents. That was the start of this exchange. Later, we expanded this program to the nurses and also the doctors. Now we are expanding this program to other providers such as pharmacists, medical engineers and therapists. We appreciate both Atrium Health Navicent and Mercer University," said Dr. Hiroshi Tsuji of Kurobe Municipal Hospital, who accompanies the delegations on each visit as they commence their training and continue their education.

The medical exchange began in March 2003, when a delegation from Kurobe City Hospital visited Mercer University and The Medical Center, Navicent Health to discuss the possibility of setting up a medical exchange between the two cities. Plans were formalized on November 5, 2003 with a signing of the agreement between Dr. W. Douglas Skelton, Senior Vice President for Health Affairs, Mercer University; Dr. Ann C. Jobe, Dean, Mercer University School of Medicine; Dr. Louis Goolsby, Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs, Medical Center of Central Georgia; Mr. Yukikazu Ogino, Mayor of the City of Kurobe; and Dr. Eisuke Takazakura, Director-General, Kurobe City Hospital. Dr. T.J. Lin, Assistant Dean of the Mercer University School of Medicine, played a key role in facilitating the partnership.

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.

About Kurobe City Hospital

Since its opening in 1949, Kurobe City Hospital, the main hospital in the Niikawa Medical Care Center 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, the leading provider of healthcare in central and south Georgia, is committed to its mission of elevating health and wellbeing through compassionate care. Providing more than 1,000 beds and offering care in 53 specialties at more than 50 facilities throughout the region, Atrium Health Navicent provides care for healthcare consumers' through an academic medical center; community, pediatric and rehabilitation hospitals; urgent care centers; physician practices; diagnostic centers; home health; hospice and palliative care; and a life plan community. Atrium Health Navicent is dedicated enhancing health and wellness for individuals throughout the region through nationally-recognized quality care, community health initiatives and collaborative partnerships. For more information, please visit