CANTON – On Friday night at the Historic Onesto Hotel, it was the Stark County dentists’ version of “and one more thing.”
Tom Paumier, who has a longtime dental practice in Stark County, was among four dentists inducted this year into the Distinguished Dental Service Academy. It’s essentially a “lifetime achievement award” bestowed by the Stark County Dental Society each year since 1999.
But when the awards ceremony was set to end, the dental society had a surprise for Paumier.
Two officials of Cleveland Clinic Mercy Hospital emerged to speak. They were Tom Turner, vice president of development and government relations, and David Gormsen, chief medical officer. Turner directed Paumier to remove the cloth covering an easel.
When he did so, he found a picture of a hallway in the offices of the hospital’s Dental General Practice Residency that he helped found in 2007. To the left was the new name of the wing, the Thomas M. Paumier, DDS Dental General Practice Residency.
The more than roughly 120 in attendance broke out in loud applause.
“Thank you very, very much. I’m humbled and honored. This would be better posthumously,” Paumier joked, sparking laughter.
He later said he was shocked at the honor.
“I’m very humbled, but it’s been a group effort since its inception, and I’m most pleased that it will continue to serve the residents of Stark County,” he said. “Those who are most in need. And it will continue to educate many of our future colleagues in this profession, many of them who will help raise the standard of care of dentistry in this community.”
Paumier, 60, of North Canton, said the residency program has produced about 40 dentists, most of whom have stayed in Northeast Ohio. And it helps thousands of patients a year.
The program focuses on coordinating oral health care with medical doctors of various specialties. Paumier said he led the effort to raise $100,000 in 2009 to establish an endowment to sustain the residency program, which now has about $1 million in assets.
Stark County Dental Society board chair and dentist Michael Thomas said about Paumier and his role in founding the residency program: “He was the one that carried it though for 10 years pursuing, trying, talking, meetings. He was the guy and it was like fuel cell technology. It was a good idea but it’s always two years away. … But it was his motivation that made it happen.”
Thomas said when he discussed the idea of naming the residency program after Paumier, there was an immediate consensus among dental society leaders to do so.
Paumier has been credited with contributing to the creation of nationwide COVID protocols for dentists.
In his induction acceptance speech, he said: “So I challenge each of you here to think about the ones in your life and to thank them some way. More important, I encourage each of you to be that one to someone else.”
Also being honored as inductees were Paumier’s mentor, Andrew Wojtkowski, the current director of the residency program that will have Paumier’s name; longtime Canton dentist K. “Ragu” Ragunanthan; and the late dentist Harvey B. Cohen. His daughter Faith Cohen and son Greg Cohen accepted his award on his behalf.
The Stark County Dental Society also honored the Alliance of the Stark County Dental Society, founded by wives of dentists in 1955 with the James F. King Oral Health Advocacy Award.
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This article originally appeared on The Repository: Cleveland Clinic Mercy Hospital renames dental residency program