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UPMC doctor to receive international award for work in Japan

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018, 5:42 p.m.
Dr. Jeanette South-Paul
Dr. Jeanette South-Paul

A UPMC doctor is among the first to be honored with an award for her work in Japan, and she says the work is benefiting doctors in both nations.

Dr. Jeanette South-Paul is a recipient of the America-Japan Society’s second annual Kentaro Kaneko Award. She will receive it at the International House in Tokyo on Oct. 23.

South-Paul, 65, is a native of Philadelphia and now lives in Munhall with her husband, Michael Paul, an orthopedic surgeon. They have two sons, both of whom are in the Army.

South-Paul has been with UPMC since 2001. She chairs the Department of Family Medicine and is a professor for the University of Pittsburgh Department of Family Medicine.

She has led UPMC’s collaboration with Aso Iizuka Hospital in Iizuka, Japan, since 2006. She and UPMC’s Department of Family Medicine partnered with Aso Iizuka Hospital colleagues to create a family medicine residency and to design a new family medicine health center within a newly built primary care hospital.

The collaboration has resulted in physicians from Pittsburgh training in Iizuka, and physicians and nurses from Iizuka coming to Pittsburgh annually.

“I can’t over-emphasize learning from our global partner and learning from each other in a mutually respectful fashion,” she said. “We learn from them as much as they learn from us. They bring so many strengths to this. I believe the relationship is mutually beneficial.”

South-Paul noted the commitment of Yutaka Aso, chairman of the board of the Aso Group, which owns the hospital; Iwao Aso, his son and Aso Group president; former hospital CEO Jiro Tanaka; and current CEO Akihide Masumoto.

“This family-owned hospital was created to serve the city of Iizuka – the home of their family cement business – and was the Aso family’s commitment to the health of its community,” she said. “It is now an international corporation with tech, education and industry, as well as seven other hospitals. I was and remain energized by this commitment to community. We often share stories of AIH growing from a blue-collar community as UPMC has also grown and the importance of health care for the health of the community.”

After the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster that led to meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, South-Paul joined a Pittsburgh committee gathering relief funds.

She also works with challenged groups, such as pregnant teens, to help them with managing their lives and actively taking steps to create a stable environment for their children.

The America-Japan Society was established in 1917. It is one of the first organizations to promote bilateral friendship between Japan and the United States.

The award is named after the society’s first president, Count Kentaro Kaneko. It was created in 2017 as part of the society’s centennial celebration to honor those who have promoted grassroots, people-to-people exchanges between Japan and the United States. It is given to one American and one person from Japan each year.

Being among its first recipients is “really humbling,” South-Paul said.

“I do what I do because I love taking care of patients. I love working with communities. It would be hard to work in the theoretical realm. I like to see a result,” she said. “You don’t do it because you think you’re going to be recognized for it. You do it because of those one-on-one encounters.”

Brian Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, brittmeyer@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BCRittmeyer.

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