In April 2013, the Knights of Vartan Ararat Lodge team completed its 9th 40-foot container of medical equipment and supplies for shipment to hospitals in Armenia. This container is destined for a hospital in the remote village of Artsvaberd, located in the northeastern corner of Armenia in the Shamshadin region of the Tavoush marz, on the hostile Azerbaijan border, 5 hours by car from Yerevan and 45 minutes due east of Berd, the regional center.
The 30-bed hospital in Artsvaberd, the largest village of the Berd territory with a population of 3,600, serves the medical needs of the 16,000 inhabitants in its nearby villages. There is a polyclinic in nearby Berd, but it is not easily accessible to the Artsvaberd region villagers because of poor roads. The hospital has 6 M.D.’s, including a gynecologist, family doctor, internal medicine doctor, dentist, radiologist, and general medicine/ultrasound doctor, 32 nurses, and a total of 51 workers. The building is a sturdy stone structure that includes 30 patient rooms, 5 for maternity, 15 for general patients, and 10 for children. One-third of the building was renovated a short while ago and is in very good condition, with new windows, floors, bathrooms, and a new roof. The rest is in poor condition. The new Minister of Health has promised to complete the renovation. The hospital is also responsible for three clinics in nearby villages.
Besides being confronted with poor economic issues largely connected with 80 percent unemployment, the civilian population in this area is terrorized by neighboring Azerbaijani military. Although there is a cease-fire agreement since 1994, Azeris engage in regular unprovoked attacks, terrorizing innocent civilians by using snipers, making incursions into Armenian territory, bombing homes, and even machine-gunning schools to frighten the population to get them to leave the territory. There are casualties and deaths among not only military personnel but civilians as well in the area. But the population insists on staying there at all costs, as they feel they must not only protect their homes but also the border of their country.
Jack Medzorian, the director of the K of V Armenia medical aid project, stated, “During my trip to the area in May 2012, I made a needs assessment of the hospital…[and] I prepared a preliminary configuration for a 40-foot container including medical equipment and supplies, considering not only the needs of the hospital, but also the capabilities of the personnel and available utilities.” Partners on this project are the following non-profit, humanitarian organizations: the International Medical Equipment Collaborative, Inc. (IMEC) in North Andover, Mass.; the SHEN NGO, the K of V’s coordinator in Armenia; and the United Armenian Fund (UAF), which handles the shipment of the container to Yerevan.
The container for Artsvaberd includes a critical care suite, patient exam suites, physical therapy suites, patient room beds and furniture, a complete doctor’s office donated by a retiring medical doctor, an infant incubator, a dental suite, a colposcope, patient monitoring systems, EKG machines, and numerous medical supplies for the hospital and the three village clinics that it serves. In addition, three pallets of equipment have been included in the container for the Arabkir Children’s Pediatric Hospital in Yerevan, including an anesthesiology machine, patient monitors, and orthopedic equipment and supplies. Also donated was the expense to repair the hospital ambulance, which was idled because of needed repairs. The container, valued at $354,300, is expected to arrive this summer.
The volunteer team that worked on this project is headed by Jack Medzorian, ably assisted by Sarkis Gennetian, Dr. Nishan Goudsouzian, and other members of the Knights of Vartan, including Krikor Shaboyan, Richard Cherkerzian, Aurelian Mardiros, Albert Movsesian, Paul Boghosian, Haig Deranian, Greg Yergatian, Nishan Moutafian, and Raffi Yeghiayan.
“We are grateful to the volunteers and others at IMEC who worked faithfully to pick, pack, strap, and wrap the 20 pallets of equipment and supplies for this container and the numerous donors who contributed generously to our fundraising appeal to help cover expenses,” Medzorian said.