Local surgeon receives award of excellence

Paul Severson, MD, accepting SAGES Award

Surgeon Paul Severson, M.D., of Deerwood, on March 22 received the Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES) Award for Excellence in Humanistic Clinical Care at the group’s annual awards luncheon in Houston, Texas, that honors distinguished leaders in minimally invasive surgery. SAGES has more than 6,000 surgeon members representing countries from all over the world.

The award is sponsored by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, which is presented to an individual who has exhibited the highest standard of humanistic patient care. It honors the practicing physician who best demonstrates the ideals of compassionate and respectful care for a patient’s physical and emotional well-being. The award is designated for a clinician who is recognized by the surgical/gastrointestinal community for excellence in patient care and surgical practice and is granted for significant surgical-endoscopic skills, patient care, contributions to community and volunteerism. With the honor, Dr. Severson is also now a member of the Gold Humanism Honor Society, a national group with over 155 established chapters at medical schools throughout the country.

Dr. Severson is the co-founder and co-director of the Minnesota Institute for Minimally Invasive Surgery, Director of the Minnesota Reflux & Heartburn Center, and Program Director for Advanced GI MIS/Bariatric and Flexible Endoscopy Fellowship. He is a member of SAGES Global Affairs committee, facilitating the Global Surgical Curriculum, which provides tele-education on a regular basis to the residents, faculty and private practice surgeons of Haiti. He has spent over 30 years educating surgeons and medical professionals in the U.S. and abroad.

The surgeon is the founder and CEO of Project Haiti and has personally made over 70 trips to Haiti with the sole purpose of teaching laparoscopic and endoscopic surgery. He played a huge role in building a state-of the-art hospital with full minimally invasive surgery capabilities in a town that rarely has running water or power and taught the residents how to use the facilities. He has also presented laparoscopic workshops that have allowed Haitians to enjoy the benefits of minimally invasive surgery for over 20 years.

“The most incredible thing about Dr. Severson though is that he has made all of these contributions to the education of others very quietly, without seeking reward or recognition,” said Dr. David Rattner of Harvard who presented the award. “He does it because he loves it. He lives for it. His teaching knows no boundaries, and includes medical students, residents, fellows, attendings, in a classroom setting, in the OR, on the podium, in a meeting, on a teleconference, and in the poorest country in the entire world in a building with no power. His dedication is truly inspiring.”

Dr. Severson has been a member of the medical staff of Cuyuna Regional Medical Center in Crosby and Riverwood Healthcare Center in Aitkin since 1984. He earned his Doctor of Medicine degree at the University of Minnesota and completed his General Surgery Residency at Hennepin County Medical Center. A Diplomate of the American Board of Surgery, he became a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons in 1988. He serves the University of Minnesota Medical School as a Clinical Adjunct Professor at the medical school in Duluth as well as the Rural Physician Associate Program.