Dr. Carole Parnes has done a lot of nurturing in the past 20 years as the mother of three children and as a physician to hundreds of others.
Now she will see to the growing pains of the 18-year-old Howard County General Hospital as president of its professional staff, which is 81 percent male. She is the first woman and first pediatrician to hold that post.
"I'm not a feminist, although I do believe in female equality. . . . I would prefer to be singled out not because I'm a woman, but because I'm a physician who has worked hard for the hospital and will continue to work hard for the hospital," said Parnes.
As president, she will coordinate all medical staff activities with the hospital administration and will represent about 30 medical specialties in dealing with policy decisions, protocol, new regulations and credentials.
Parnes' new title also gives her a seat on the hospital Board of Trustees, its finance committee, and chairmanship of the Medical Executive Committee, on which heads of the hospital's different specialties discuss how hospital operations affect their patients.
Parnes said she was more surprised that the staff would elect a pediatrician than that it elected a woman.
The hospital, she notes, has no pediatric ward, and "being pediatricians, we don't actually admit very many patients to the hospital."
One reason for her election is her service record to the hospital, said one colleague. She has served on various committees, including the credentials, finance, ethics and medical executive committees.
She also worked on the planning committee for the hospital's new 13-bed special care nursery that cares for premature babies.
The nursery, which opened last August, "helped keep high-risk mothers delivering at the hospital," instead of opting for Baltimore hospitals, said Parnes. Last week the nursery cared fortwo 1-pound, 6-ounce infants.
While the hospital continues to implement other medical advances, such as a magnetic resonance imaging unit, a radiation-free X-ray substitute, they will have to be balancedagainst a need to keep costs down during tough economic times, she said.
Parnes said that while she was excited about how the hospital's campus plan will improve areas such as oncology and cancer therapy, some hospital improvement projects might have to be delayed in the interest of keeping costs under control.
Richard Wade, vice president of communications for the Maryland Hospital Association, said thenumber of female administrators on medical staffs is growing as morewomen doctors approach midcareer, when doctors generally attain professional leadership posts, said Wade.
Parnes succeeds obstetrician/gynecologist Dr. Steven Noskow, who served as president for the 1990term. Other officers for 1991 are gynecologist Kline Price, vice president, and internist Parry Moore, secretary-treasurer.
Because the hospital is serving a fast-growing community, the president of the medical staff must be "constantly looking ahead to the future," Noskow said.
One indication of the hospital's rapid growth is the fact that despite the opening of new labor and delivery facilities and thespecial care nursery, "we're already looking at (the possibility that) over the next five years we are going to have to expand again."
At Howard County General, deliveries are expected to hit 3,000 this year after 2,600 in 1990, making pediatrics a more visible part of the hospital's professional community, Parnes said.
Parnes and her husband, William, a cardiologist at Howard General, were attracted to Columbia in 1974 after moving to the Baltimore area from New York City.
"We loved the idea of Columbia; it sounded like a place we wanted to live," said Parnes, who describes the town as "closer to any I know of in the world where people can live as equals."
The couple now live in Running Brook with their children, Danny, 20, Eric, 16, and Sari, 13.
Parnes earned her medical degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx and completed her residency andtraining at Montefiore Hospital, also in the Bronx.
While her husband was doing a cardiology fellowship with the Public Health ServiceHospital in Wyman Park in Baltimore, Parnes began working on the staff of the Comprehensive Child Care Clinic at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
After seven years at Hopkins, Parnes began her Columbia practice in 1981 in an office near Howard General, and in 1990 moved to Dorsey Hall Medical Center near the Dorsey's Search Village Center with her new partner, Columbia pediatrician Michael W. May.