With more than 35 volunteer medical professionals, Armenia Fund and Glendale Adventist Medical Center (GAMC) wrapped up a successful week-long medical mission to the Noyemberyan Hospital, located in Armenia’s northeast Tavush region.
The medical mission is a result of the special partnership between Armenia Fund and Glendale Adventist Medical Center with the aim of establishing a sister hospital relationship with the Noyemberyan Hospital. The purpose of the October visit was to offer free medical services and surgeries to the residents of Noyemberyan and the surrounding 30 villages. It also provided the opportunity for physicians, surgeons, nurses and medical professionals from Glendale to lay the foundation of this long-term partnership. In May, GAMC and Armenia Fund leadership visited the Noyemberyan Hospital for a needs assessment as well as to help plan the mission.
Led by GAMC President and CEO Kevin Roberts, the 31 member medical team from Glendale performed 35 surgeries, including maxillofacial, varicose-vein, gallbladder-removal, and hernia procedures. The magnitude and scale of a mission like this had never occurred in Armenia’s modern history, especially in a rural, borderline hospital. The GAMC surgical team, composed of three surgeons, two anesthesiologists, surgical nurses, scrub techs, and a biomedical engineer were working long hours in completing operations.
“As physicians, we went to Armenia to help people who are marginalized and lacking resources,” said Simon Keushkerian, M.D. “As an immigrant, the only way you can show that your heritage is still maintained alive and thriving is by making sure that the people who live in that country are healthy to thrive and to survive.”
Children with congenital facial defects were operated on free of charge. Farmers and other rural works with hernias were able to return to work, thanks to the multiple surgeries carried out by GAMC surgeons.
“I performed surgeries on several patients – oral and neck tumors, scar revisions, cleft palates,” said Armond Kotikian, M.D. “Patients ranged from a 10-month-old infant to senior adults. Half the patients were under age 5. I won’t forget the look of gratitude on faces of their families whose children we helped to finally be able to eat and drink normally.”
In addition to the surgical team, 10 primary care and specialist physicians examined, treated, and provided free medications to twice as many patients as had been planned, bringing the total of the mission’s beneficiaries, children and adults alike, to close to 800. Internal medicine, cardiology, pulmonary, neurology and pediatrics were particularly welcomed based on the medical needs of the community.
“We felt God’s call to expand our mission of ‘sharing His love’ to Noyemberyan. He then blessed our service with safety, unity and effectiveness,” stated Kevin Roberts, GAMC President and CEO. “Seeing the joy and relief on peoples’ faces and hearing them say ‘You brought hope to our community’ exceeded our expectations and will propel us to return and do more. Without the partnership with Armenia Fund, we never could have accomplished this mission. Our collaboration has been perfectly complementary to our purposes.”
Adventist Health (GAMC’s parent health system) hospital and corporate executives donated a brand new all-wheel drive ambulance with critical life support equipment, suited to operate on unpaved roads. Armenia Fund U.S. Western Region’s President Antranik Baghdassarian matched it by donating another identical ambulance. Prior to the donation, Noyemberyan had only one ambulance that would break down often and was well past its lifespan.
In addition, thanks to the partnership, the Noyemberyan Hospital’s surgical capacity was doubled – the procedure room was converted to a complete operating room. Prior to the arrival of the mission, GAMC donated two anesthesia machines, complete with its monitors and accessories. This came in addition to the 2.5 tons of medical supplies and equipment donated to the Noyemberyan Hospital by GAMC.
Armenia Fund coordinated the mission activities with the Ministry of Health of Armenia. The group was received by the Honorable Dr. Armen Muradyan, who welcomed the efforts of Armenia Fund and the Glendale Adventist Medical Center in enhancing rural medicine in Armenia, especially in the Tavush Region.