Gouin, Paul


GOUIN, Paul Robert, M.D.

Paul Robert Gouin, M.D., died March 22, 2022, in Atlanta, Georgia, after a courageous battle with Alzheimer's Disease. He was 82.

Born March 29, 1939 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, he was the son of Paul Emile Gouin and Lily Helma Biggs, the eldest of three children. He grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, where he attended Viscount Alexander Collegiate Institute. After he graduated, the family moved to California, where his mother's family has historical roots.

He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Zoology in June 1962 from the University of California, Los Angeles, and subsequently spent two years with the Peace Corps as a sanitation and public health specialist in Panama. Always fascinated by science, he received a Master of Science degree in Biochemistry from California State University, Long Beach in September 1970, followed by work as a research biochemist in labs in Venice and Torrance, California.

He received a medical degree from the Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara, Mexico in September 1977, and spent two years working at the Centro de Salud Urbano, a public health clinic, in Mexicali, Baja California.

Dr. Gouin was a long-time staff physician at Ingham Medical Center in Lansing, Michigan, where beginning in 1980 he served as a resident in internal medicine and a pulmonary fellow. He was an assistant professor of medicine at Michigan State University.

He was an early adaptor and champion of the developing field of sleep medicine. He helped set up and served as the first medical director of the Ingham Regional Medical Center (Greenlawn Campus) of that hospital's nationally recognized Sleep Disorder Program.

Pam Minkley was the clinic's chief technician: "When we put out the call for someone to direct the sleep center, he answered the challenge. We learned sleep together. We spent hours poring over a thousand pages of each sleep recording learning to score them. He was always willing to learn even though many of the tasks were delegated to 'techs." As a physician he worked right alongside of us to understand the new field of sleep medicine."

Minkley adds: 'That experience and his willingness to explore every nook and cranny of sleep medicine and technology is what he used to become an exceptional site visitor. He had done every job in our sleep center from scheduling to setting up and running sleep studies to scoring and reporting studies, interpreting studies, changing the beds, and running the clinic. He always knew if an accreditation application was "bloated." He would call while on site if he saw something unusual technically. He always wanted to know if it was a "good, bad or ugly" thing so he could compliment, correct and/or teach while still at the site visit. He always wanted to help make us better and translated that into giving deficient sites tools to get better."

As a gay staff physician, Paul worked to overcome the fear and prejudice prevalent at the time about treating patients infected with HIV. He played a leading role in establishing the Lansing Area AIDS Network. In the early days, the group's Buddy system -- a support system for people in the community living with AIDS -- was run out of his house. Said Minkley, "I don't think anyone was aware of the volunteer hours he spent in AIDS clinics. And when we traveled together to SFO to teach at Stanford, we'd always make a trip into the city to visit old friends until there were none left to visit."

He was a board member of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and served as the Chair of the Part II Examination Committee of the American Board of Sleep Medicine. He also served as Chair, Central Region, Accreditation Committee of the American Sleep Disorders Association.

Dr. Stuart Quan, Professor of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, remembers Paul this way: "Paul was dedicated to making the examination process thorough and fair. We worked and 'played' hard together in developing the exam yearly as the 'Gang of 4'. He never ceased to be amazed at the advances in sleep science and medicine and was always eager to learn about them. It seemed he was always there on the last day of the meeting."

After retiring from active practice, Paul served as an accreditation site visitor for many years. He is remembered for his humor, can-do attitude, and warm bedside manner.

He enjoyed many happy years of retirement, reading, traveling, and making friends and sharing stories with neighbors in his adopted city of Decatur, Georgia. He was always up for a new challenge. Minkley writes: "When I asked him what he was going to do when he retired, he said 'learn Japanese'. I said won't you have to learn to read and write the characters/symbols then? He answered, 'So? There's only 46 of them.'" He was an avid collector of stamps, French art glass, and Japanese woodblock prints. He was also a lifelong bodybuilder and won first place in the Michigan "Buns of Steel" competition for seniors. He was fiercely proud of his Canadian heritage and held dual U.S.-Canadian citizenship. He spoke English, French and Spanish.

Dr. Gouin is survived by husband, J. Richard Cook, a journalist; also by nieces Ilana Zivkovich, Linda Billingsly and Gail Stahl, several cousins in Canada, and many friends. A memorial service is being organized to take place at St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church in Atlanta.

Dr. Gouin was a lifelong champion of Hawaii and its history, language and culture. A scholarship has been set up in his honor at Kamehameha Schools, a legendary school in Hawaii with campuses all across the Islands. Its mission is to provide world-class educational opportunities to children of Hawaiian ancestry, and to improve the well-being of all Native Hawaiians.

In honor of Dr. Gouin's legacy, please consider a donation to the Paul Robert Gouin, MD, Memorial Scholarship at the school foundation's website here: https://www.pauahi.org/give-to-a-scholarship Please make sure to select his scholarship in the drop-down menu.

A traditional Hawaiian funeral service will be held for Dr. Gouin at a later date, and his ashes will be spread in the waters off Hawaii.