"And I hope your Cable Guy never shows up!" - Dr. Paul Kirkwood
Dr. Paul Kirkwood is the chief resident and physician at Ashford Falls Community General Hospital in Ashford Falls, New York. He has had a long off-and-on again relationship with Rachel Hedison, the daughter of local millionaire socialite, Carter Hedison.
Born in Fall River, Massachusetts, Kirkwood was the only child of ambulance driver Gabe Kirkwood and Katherine Haynes-Kirkwood, a nurse at St. Eligius Hospital in Boston, who later divorced. Paul and his mother later moved in with his Aunt Helen and two female cousins in nearby Westbridge where he recalled a happy childhood with the neighborhood kids.
Attending Westbridge High School, Paul studied pre-med at Boston College and did his follow-up at Harvard Medicine where he studied with Angela Harker, another medical student. The two of them developed a relationship that lasted for several years but was complicated when Angela got her internship at Boston Medical Center while Paul was forced to take internship at St. Eligius, which he considered beneath his talents and worth. Two years after he made resident, he transferred to the All Saints Hospital in New York City in 1975, considering the move a promotion and a step-up from St. Eligius.
In 1985, Paul continued his career at Ashford Falls Community General Hospital in Ashford Falls, New York, replacing Dr. Albert Waverly as chief resident. He also became attracted to Helen Caldwell, a local nurse who befriended him and eased his transition into the new hospital. Paul and Helen's relationship was made difficult by Rachel Hedison, who also pursued the handsome doctor to further her standing in the local community. While Helen reminded Paul of his old relationship with Angela, his relationship with Rachel was a boost to his career.
In 1986, Paul was the chief physician in major surgery to save the life of Carter Hedison, joined by Angel arriving in Ashford Falls as Carter's therapy specialist. Their reunion sparked a renewal in their relationship and Helen briefly left town to take further nursing studies than deal with the threat of their renewed relationship. His father, Gabe, also showed up in town looking for money from his now successful son. Paul put off the unscrupulous gambler off as long as he could and eventually went to Rachel to borrow the money, but Rachel saw it as a means to strengthen her relationship with Paul, but first she had to distract Angel from her attention in him. She hired Louis Riley, one of her father's local cronies, to do research on Angel's past looking for information she could use to extort control on her. Several months later, she learned that Angel had been accused of surgical malpractice in the death of Marcie Hastings, a forty-year old mother in New York City. Charges had been dropped after the hospital found no wrongdoing, but Rachel anonymously linked the story to the local press, reinvigorating the case and even publicly offered the Hastings family the money to pursue a wrongful death settlement. Although Paul pled with Rachel to not go through with the civil suit, Rachel went through with it. Gabe Kirkwood even offered what money he had received from Paul to stop the case from going to trial, eventually going to Angel to warn her about Rachel. Rachel had Riley get involved to stop Gabe from going through with the malfeasance, and he attempted to take Gabe out, but Angel took the bullet instead. To cover up her duplicity, Rachel paid a witness to claim Gabe had fired the gun that killed Angel, and he was sent to jail at Riker's Island in New York City where he was silenced by inmate Bud Mason, an associate of Riley's.
Helen by now returned to Paul's life and helped him through his grief over losing Angel, but Rachel also used the opportunity to engage Paul as her date to numerous balls and cotillions. Having established herself as Paul's public love interest, Rachel re-continued her feud with Helen and exerted her control over Paul by pulling favors from him in exchange for sexual favors, particularly in manipulating the medical requirements of her brother, Blake Hedison, considered her father's only true heir. She eventually coerced Paul to marry her although this was mostly to fully hamper his relationship with Helen.
In 1991, now stressed and fatigued by Rachel's demands on him, Paul saw actual competition for Rachel's affections in the form of New York City writer Jack Gable. Unaware that Gable was actually controlling the events around him as a TV writer through his typewriter, Paul was also extremely disconcerted by the physical debilitation on Blake because of the experimental medication Rachel had forced him to prescribe to him. Even as their engagement went on, Paul became depressed at the announcement of his marriage to Rachel and his prospects of life with her. Feeling a failure as a doctor, he contemplated taking his life in a bathroom at Hedison Manor with a revolver, but ironically, Blake opened the bathroom door and knocked the gun from his hand. Confessing to Rachel's treachery, Paul renewed Blake's hatred in her, and Blake attacked her with Paul's gun, accidentally shooting Janet DuBois in attendance. Desperate to get to the medical patents of Janet's father to win her father's approval, Rachel once more ordered Paul to let Janet die in the operation to save her life, but Paul saw it as a chance of redemption and saved Janet's life, breaking things off with Rachel.
After his separation from Rachel, Paul took a sabbatical from Ashford Falls Community General Hospital and returned to his mother's home in Boston. Meanwhile, Helen tracked him down and they renewed their relationship. He took a job at Boston Medical Center as the new Chief of Surgery and helped Helen land a job there as well. As they planned their wedding, Carter Hedison suffered another stroke and Blake called on Paul to be his father's main physician again. During their return, they were shocked to learn that Rachel was behind the take-over. She offered to call it off if Paul would once more return to her, but he turned her down, knowing full well her true intentions. Janet meanwhile tried to help Blake with the money off her father's patents but that threatened Paul's investments in her stocks. Together, she and Paul joined forces to temporarily devalue the stocks by boosting the prices. Rachel bought up the supposedly worthless stocks by selling a few of her shares in her father's company which Janet then acquired. Paul then promised to leave Helen and marry Rachel if she sold him the seemingly worthless stocks. Although Rachel had control of her father's company, she soon became aware she was no longer the chief stockholder. With Janet and Paul's stocks rising under the restored prices, they now had control of the company and ousted Rachel from control.