Projects in Armenia
- Pediatric Epilepsy Project
- Rural Clinics
- Juvenile Diabetes
- Mobile Clinic
- Women's Clinic
- Shengavit Maternity Hospital Project
- The Armenian EyeCare Project
Projects in California
Projects in Armenia
The AAMS has a strong history of creating and implementing innovative projects in the homeland.
Pediatric Epilepsy Project
In January of 2003, through the efforts of Dr. Armen Cherik and Dr. Mark Nazarian, the AAMS established a pediatric epilepsy program in Armenia. Since its inception, the pediatric epilepsy clinic in Yerevan has hired a full-time pediatric neurologist and nurse, and the AAMS has shipped equipment, books and anti-seizure medications to Armenia. Today, hundreds of children are receiving care and medication free of charge at the clinic.
The AAMS has also established clinics in three villages that border with Karabagh and Azerbaijan-Aregouni in 2005; Pokr Mazrik in 2006; Tsapatagh in 2007 in order to make the war-torn region more habitable. These clinics have alleviated a tremendous burden for these villages that are largely populated by refugees from Karabagh, as the closest health facilities could be as many as eight hours away. Each clinic has a full-time nurse who provides care to patients throughout the week, and a physician visits each clinic at least once a week. The clinic in Aregouni also provides dental care to patients. The clinics are managed by the region (marz) and the mayor (marzbed), and the federal government pays the salaries for the physicians and nurses. In 2008, the AAMS began construction of a fourth clinic in the remote northeastern village of Voskevan, which has been in dire need of a medical clinic for fifteen years.
The AAMS has also created a program through which the organization will sponsor residents and physicians to volunteer in Armenia on a one-month to three-month basis and make rounds among the three clinics. There, they will have the opportunity to teach the local doctors about advances in medicine and serve their people through their profession, while giving the AAMS a first-hand account of the progress these clinics are making.
The AAMS Juvenile Diabetes Project has been operating in Armenia since 1993 under the leadership of Dr. Mark Nazarian. Life can be incredibly difficult and painful for children with juvenile diabetes. Uncontrolled diabetes can result in heartbreaking consequences, including loss of consciousness, dehydration, kidney failure, strokes, blindness, and poor circulation that could lead to infection and amputation. These young lives are often cut short because of complications due to juvenile diabetes. Insulin remains a high-priority medication that is in short supply in Armenia. With the money raised through the annual events, insulin is purchased and shipped to Armenia every year. Through the support of the AAMS, the medical community and pharmaceutical companies, the incidences of these life-threatening complications have dramatically declined. The AAMS has also been working through a government-sponsored program to ensure that supplies and medication is provided to all diabetic children free of charge.
Shengavit Maternity Hospital Project
The Shengavit Maternity Hospital has been in operation since the late 1990s. The AAMS undertook the project under the guidance and supervision of Dr. Bedros Kojian, an an OB/GYN and Clinical Professor at UCI, and a Past President of AAMS.
The AAMS initially delivered five complete sets of laparoscopic equipment and instruments and established a Laparoscopic and Minimally Invasive Surgical Center, and Dr. Kojian began training the staff. Two physicians from Armenia traveled to California, where they successfully completed their post-graduate training and returned to Armenia to assume posts at the hospital. In subsequent years, operating tables, anesthesia machines, electrosurgical equipment, monitors, incubators, and ventilators, among other necessary equipment were shipped to refurbish the hospital. A $250,000 donation from the AAMS established a radiology department with state-of-the-art x-ray, mammogram and ultrasound machines. The AAMS also replaced all the old hospital beds with electrical automatic beds, and electrical automatic labor and delivery beds. Thanks to the support of the T. and EJ. Tracy Family Foundation, a donation of $100,000 was made to the clinic and an In Vitro Fertilization Center is being established.
Today, the AAMS is proud to report that the Shengavit Medical Center is currently ranked 2nd in Yerevan and delivers as many as 256 babies each month. In the past, the Shengavit Medical Center ranked 7th, with just under 100 deliveries per month. Dr. Kojian continues to visit Armenia each year to upgrade the equipment, and update the knowledge of his colleagues. He credits the center's success to the enthusiasm and dedication of the staff, who continuously improve the quality of care and services they provide, under the skilled leadership of Dr. Sergey Urumian.
The Armenian EyeCare Project
The Armenian EyeCare Project "Save the Beautiful Armenian Eyes" was founded in 1992 through the extraordinary efforts of Orange County ophthalmologist Dr. Roger V. Ohanesian. The AAMS, Dr. Ohanesian and Dr. Richard L. Kasper, with generous donations from Alegran, Inc., Algon Surgical, Inc., Eye Technology, Inc., and many other groups, sent eye surgical equipment totaling an estimated $1,218,000 to Armenia, establishing one of the most progressive retinal surgery centers in Armenia and the region. The mission of the Armenian EyeCare Project is to eliminate preventable blindness in Armenia and to make 21st-century eye care accessible to every Armenian man, woman, and child.
Dr. Ohanesian and Dr. Kasper traveled to Armenia on numerous occasions to operate and train Armenian ophthalmologists. Through the efforts of AAMS, several Armenian eye surgeons were brought to United States for training in retinal surgery. The Armenian EyeCare Project continues to thrive, and has recently undertaken a project to create eye surgery mobile units that will travel to remote parts of Armenia to treat underprivileged patients.
Projects in California
Below is the list of projects in California implemented by AAMS.
Glendale Health Festival
The Glendale Health Festival is a community service of the Armenian American Medical Society (AAMS) in collaboration with the Office of State Senator Carol Liu, the City of Glendale Parks and Recreation, Glendale Adventist Medical Center, Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center, Northwest Glendale Lions Club, the Armenian American Nursesí Association and Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. On that day, physicians and nurses volunteer their services to consult uninsured patients living in Glendale, Hollywood, and nearby communities. The health festival includes free medical screenings and health education for the whole family on conditions such as high blood pressure, obesity and proper nutrition, cancer awareness, diabetes, heart disease, bone health, and more. Breast and cervical cancer screenings are offered to appropriate patients. On-site multi-lingual medical staff provides health-related information and advice. In addition, the festival features free food, entertainment and activities for the entire family. The health festival is attended by as many as 1,500 patients.
The goal of the health festival is not simply to provide patients with an annual physical exam, but also to anticipate their needs and refer patients to other county-funded facilities for continuity of care.
Community Health Education
The members of the AAMS believe that medicine is not just for when patients are sick or in dire need prevention is fundamental. As such, the AAMS encourages individuals to contact local social workers to learn whether they are eligible for health insurance. Our doctors don't want patients to wait until the last minute, or avoid seeing a doctor because they fear insurmountable medical bills. AAMS doctors and nurses encourage their patients to get the insurance they deserve, and to see a physician regularly for the care that they need.
To this end, the AAMS has partnered with ARTN/Shant Television to launch a half-hour talk show during prime time programming on every first and third Wednesday of each month. Featuring physicians and health care professionals whose areas of practice cover the entire spectrum of allied health care, the show will be a dynamic resource for viewers interested in improving their health. The program, which will air twice a week, will emphasize the importance of preventative care, and focus on how people can and maintain a healthful lifestyle. The AAMS believes that everyone should have the opportunity to receive medical care and advice, regardless of their financial situation. The aim of the television show is to provide an opportunity for the Armenian community to address their concerns with the counsel of bi-lingual health care professionals. The show will also provide viewers with information about the AAMS and our activities in California and Armenia.
As part of its mission, the AAMS offers monthly Continuing Medical Education (CME) courses to its members, as well as an annual nine-credit course that takes place in Las Vegas. These courses allow physicians from a variety of fields to maintain their competence while educating fellow healthcare practitioners about the advances being made in their specialty.
The AAMS has been a vibrant and integral part of the Armenian community thanks to the participation of our members and membership in the AAMS gives healthcare professionals the unique opportunity to contribute to the Armenian community in Southern California and in the homeland. Furthermore, the members of the AAMS provide mentorship and guidance to Armenian medical students and residents, for whom membership is free of charge. The AAMS strongly believes in a collegial relationship between veteran physicians and their student counterparts. Headed by Dr. Raffi Tachdjian, the AAMS mentorship program gives young Armenian medical students, residents and fellows access to a broad spectrum of Armenian physicians and healthcare practitioners who can give them guidance and advice as they choose their specialty.