To two visiting physicians -- from a nation that two years ago didn't have enough surgical gloves or syringes-- Carroll County General Hospital seemed awash in technology and equipment.
"You have everything!" marveled Dr. Mihaela Badea, an obstetrician-gynecologist with the Romanian Ministry of Health, after seeing the hospital's cardiac catheterization unit, magnetic resonance imaging facility, and an ultrasound system in a birthing suite in the maternity wing.
Dr. Badea visited here with colleague Dr. Iulian Badea, who is no relation. He is chairman of the obstetrics and gynecology department at a Bucharest hospital.
They toured Carroll County General on Thursday as part of a two-week study tour sponsored by the World Health Organization.
Dr. Mihaela Badea's task in the Ministry of Health is to help plan a comprehensive cervical cancer screening program that will extend early detection through Pap smears.
At Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, the Romanian physicians saw "very complicated care," said Jane D. Scott, a health scientist with the Department of Health and Human Services who accompanied them. They came to Carroll because, "we needed a counterbalance. They need to see a system of care that is both urban and rural," Ms. Scott said.
Cervical cancer can be diagnosed and surgery performed on it at CCGH. But the hospital does not provide radiation or chemotherapy treatments, said spokeswoman Gill Chamblin.
Of the approximately 2,000 cases of cervical cancer that occur in Romania each year, only about 20 percent are detected while the cancer is still in early stages, Dr. Mihaela Badea said.
In the United States, the American Cancer Society attributes a 70 percent decrease in the death rate for uterine cancers during the last 40 years to an increase in regular checkups and Pap smears. The five-year survival rate for all cervical cancer patients is 66 percent. For patients diagnosed early, it is 88 percent.
"We don't expect to have, in a very short time, spectacular results," Dr. Mihaela Badea said. She said the cervical cancer program is not a top priority.
Other priorities have grabbed international attention, such as the plight of Romanian orphans. The execution of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in December 1989 revealed an estimated 140,000 orphans living in substandard conditions.
During the visit, the two physicians met with Dr. Sharon Y. Alongi, a Westminster family practitioner who is an old friend of Ms. Scott's.
"What they're doing here is seeing the role of the non-specialist," said Dr. Alongi.
She talked to the Romanian physicians about how she does Pap smears, notifies patients of results and refers them to specialists when needed.