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An International Medical Exchange : Health: As part of a 30-day program based at Azusa Pacific University, two Russian doctors study hospital and nursing care here.


SAN GABRIEL VALLEY — Two Russian medical educators visited Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena this week as part of a program to modernize their country's health care system.

Drs. Izabella Trarnovskaia, 47, and Irina Kovaleva, 54, are studying American nursing schools and hospitals in a 30-day program based at Azusa Pacific University.

Trarnovskaia, who is from Moscow, and Kovaleva, who is from St. Petersburg, are nurses as well as medical doctors. Both teach at nursing schools.

The program is sponsored by Monrovia-based World Vision, an international relief agency, and the United States Agency for International Development, which provides worldwide development assistance and economic support.

World Vision contributed a $350,000 grant for the Russian Nursing Education Reform Project, and the international development agency contributed $500,000 to the program, which is believed to be the first effort of its kind.

Medical experts in the former Soviet Union are taking advantage of perestroika by studying Western medicine, Trarnovskaia said through a translator.

Across Russia, the medical system is disintegrating and infectious diseases are rampant, she said. In 1991, for the first time since the 1940s, Russia's death rate began to exceed its birthrate. The average life expectancy for a Russian man has dropped from 66.1 years in 1966 to 63.8 years in 1992. By contrast, the average American male lives to age 72.

During a tour at Huntington Memorial, Kovaleva said she was impressed by the fact that each nurse cared for only a few patients. In Russia, nurses typically care for more than 30 patients each, she said.

"Huntington is the hospital of the future for Russia," she said.

In July, eight Azusa Pacific nursing faculty will visit Russia and help nursing educators prepare the first culturally sensitive, modern nursing textbook, said Marsha D. Fowler, an Azusa nursing professor.

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