ARF Eastern Region Presents Live COVID-19 Panel Discussion

Public Health and Infectious Disease Experts to Discuss Navigating Re-opening and the New Normal

WATERTOWN, Mass. – The Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Eastern Region (ARF-ER) will be hosting a live COVID-19 panel discussion on Facebook on Sunday, July 26 at 5 pm EDT as a public service to the community. The event will address reopening and the “new normal.” Panelists include moderator and public health expert Kim Hekimian, PhD, infectious disease specialist Dr. Tsoline Kojaoghlanian and ophthalmologist Dr. Lawrence Najarian.

The live panel discussion will be streamed on the ARF Eastern Region Facebook page. Viewers can also be taken directly to the live stream by clicking this link here and click “Get Reminder” to be notified when the ARF Eastern Region goes live on Sunday.

Panelists will be providing viewers with an update on COVID-19, a look at how hospitals and doctors’ offices are operating during the pandemic and what precautions Americans can take as they navigate going to the eye doctor, dentist, etc. Viewers will also be able to ask questions in the comments section on Facebook.

Kim Hekimian, PhD will serve as moderator. Dr. Hekimian is an assistant professor of nutrition in pediatrics (gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition) at the Institute of Human Nutrition at Columbia University where she also serves as the associate director of education for the VP&S Program in Education in Global and Population Health. Highly regarded for her work in the field of public health, Dr. Hekimian co-organized a Public Health Working Group for Armenia this spring in response to the impact COVID-19 had on Armenia, specifically. The working group, which brought together a team of experts including epidemiologists, biostatisticians, public health policy makers and risk communication experts from academic centers around the globe, is aimed at supporting the efforts of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Armenia and the American University of Armenia School of Public Health with health system strengthening activities. A former professor at the American University of Armenia’s School of Public Health, Dr. Hekimian received her PhD in Health Policy from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. In her current role as an educator at Columbia, she teaches courses in public health nutrition and research methods; her research focuses on maternal and child nutrition. In addition to serving her school community, she is a member of Apgar Society of Medical Educators and serves on the executive boards of the Armenian American Health Professionals Organization (AAHPO), the Armenian Medical Fund (AMF) and the Columbia University Armenian Center. Dr. Hekimian is also active in the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

“During this very challenging time, sometimes we are overwhelmed by the seeming confusion about data regarding the coronavirus. I look forward to moderating a panel of experts who will be answering our community’s questions. What is meant by the stages of re-opening? Can someone get reinfected with the virus? How can we live our ‘normal’ lives, but also reduce risk to ourselves and to our families and neighbors? Can I go back to the doctor or dentist safely? Do masks really work? What are the chances for the vaccines? These are questions that we all have, and on Sunday we will be able to have a discussion about what we know, and what we don’t know, still, about this novel virus and the implications for our community,” said Dr. Hekimian.

Infectious disease expert Tsoline Kojaoghlanian, MD, will provide an update on COVID-19 with respect to how hospitals and doctors’ offices are helping patients take precautions while attending to their healthcare needs. Dr. Kojaoghlanian is a physician at Maimonides Children’s Hospital in Brooklyn, New York, the only children’s hospital in the borough. She has been working tirelessly in all aspects of COVID-19 at her organization and has published in premier medical journals on the topic as well. She volunteers as a board member of the Armenian American Health Professionals Organization (AAHPO). She earned both her Bachelor of Science with honors and her medical degree from the American University of Beirut in Lebanon before moving to the US to complete her pediatric residency at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York. She began her fellowship in pediatric infectious diseases at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in the Bronx, New York, where she served as a faculty member for 15 years. She has extensive expertise in treating a variety of infections in healthy as well as immunocompromised children, and she is a specialist in pre and post-travel counseling. Dr. Kojaoghlanian holds leadership positions on the hospital and departmental level committees, which include infection control, evidence-based treatment guidelines and trainee education. Her research focuses on adenoviruses, and she has been the principal investigator of multiple clinical trials. She has received a faculty teaching award and is a strong advocate for quality assurance in medical care.

The third and final panelist, Lawrence V. Najarian, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist who has served Bedminster and the surrounding communities for nearly 30 years. The founder and medical director of the Bedminster Eye and Laser Center in Bedminster, NJ, he received special training at Moorsfield Eye Hospital in London and Emory University and has served for nearly 30 years as a volunteer faculty member, teaching ophthalmology residents at New York University and New York Eye and Ear Infirmary. Dr. Najarian has been serving as president of the Armenian American Health Professional Organization (AAHPO) since 2006. He also served on the Board of the Armenian Eye Care Project, which recently honored him with a Silver Award for his service to patients. Through these organizations, Dr. Najarian has led and participated in multiple medical missions to Armenia, facilitated the donation of a $1 million microsurgical training laboratory, helped provide training to physicians in rural villages and raised funding for tele-health programming. A graduate of The John Hopkins University and the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, he completed his residency in ophthalmology at New York University-Bellevue Medical Center. Aside from his work as a physician, he also gives back to the communities he serves and is a proud recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, a prestigious award given in recognition of significant service to local, professional and immigrant communities, as well as the Good Scout Award for his service as a lifelong Boy Scout.

“ARF ER CC is privileged to host this panel of experts. We are lucky to have them as members of our communities,” said Ani Tchaghlasian, a member of ARF-ER Central Committee. “Through this panel, they will provide a better understanding of the current situation and how our community can best navigate through these trying times and stay healthy, most importantly.”

ARF Eastern US Central Committee

ARF Eastern US Central Committee

The ARF Eastern Region Central Committee’s headquarters is the Hairenik Building in Watertown, Mass. The ARF Eastern Region’s media and bookstore are also housed in this building, as are various other important Armenian community organizations. The ARF Eastern Region holds a convention annually and calls various consultative meetings and conferences throughout the year.

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