Knights Send $425,000 In Medical Supplies To Armenia


Mardiros Aurelian, left, chats with coordinator Jack Medzorian prior to a shipment of medical supplies valued at $425,000 through the International Medical Equipment Collaborative (IMEC).

By Tom Vartabedian

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — Medical equipment valued at $425,000 should go a long way toward helping residents at the Miasnikyan Regional Health Care Center in the Armavir District of Armenia as well as the Yerevan Central Oncology Hospital.

Sponsoring the project were members of Ararat Lodge, Knights of Vartan, in Cambridge through the International Medical Equipment Collaborative (IMEC), a humanitarian group designed to upgrade impoverished hospitals and medical centers throughout the world.

This marked the seventh shipment in as many years bound for Armenia, totaling nearly $3 million in outside contributions.

The latest freight consisted of surgical supplies, office equipment, an entire conference room, complete optical setup, patient room suites, a medical library and physical therapy equipment.

Another pallet of anesthesiology equipment was sent to Berd to assist a polyclinic in that village.

Providing support for the project were the United Armenian Fund and the Armenian Genocide Commemorative Committee of Merrimack Valley. Transportation alone runs about $10,000, most of which was subsidized by the Knights. As for the equipment, nearly all is donated by businesses and corporations throughout the country.
Coordinating the project was Jack Medzorian, who makes annual trips to Armenia in an effort to meet and address the needs, particularly with schools and hospitals. He is seeing the good that’s being done.

“Having visited these hospitals and clinics, I’ve seen first-hand their lack of basic equipment and supplies, especially in the villages which seem to be neglected,” said Medzorian. “We’re encouraging the population to stay in these villages and not move to the bigger cities.”

Twenty years ago when Medzorian visited Berd just before the Azeri war, it was a vibrant community with 12,000 residents. Since then, the population has been halved with no economic opportunities and an 80-percent unemployment rate.

“These people are virtually deprived of proper basic medical care because of poor facilities and supplies,” he says. “Most of my contacts aren’t with patients but with service providers and they’re so grateful at any assistance received. What we send is safe, updated equipment. They consider it a treasure.”

According to volunteer Albert S. Movsesian, IMEC has taken a big interest in Armenia because of the need.
“We have people who go back and forth to monitor the equipment and see that t’s being used properly,” he brought out. “The suburban areas in Armenia need so much help. We’re providing valuable assistance to that country. It’s all about people helping people.”

On this day, Medzorian and Movsesian were joined by three other volunteers: Varujan Masrof, Albert Tsaturyan and Mardiros Aurelian, another benefactor.  The group held hands in prayer as the last pallet was loaded onto a truck. IMEC is a faith-based organization which occupies some 200,000 square feet inside the former Lucent Technologies building, once Western Electric Co.

“Every time we send a shipment, our prayers are sure to follow,” said Medzorian. “The people at IMEC are truly an unsung breed. They’re ordinary people in everyday life doing extraordinary deeds. The Knights of Vartan are extremely fortunate to partner with them and efficiently carry out all aspects of our mission effectively.”

The last shipment leaving IMEC in North Andover, valued at $365,000, arrived in Berdzor (formerly Lachin) Hospital and clinics in the Kashatagh region of Karabagh.

The container arrived in Poti, Georgia, by ocean freight, then transported overland to Yerevan, offloaded and delivered to Berdzor. Coordinator for this shipment was Mary Matosian, project director of the Tufenkian Charitable Foundation.

The total population served in this region was 8,000. Most of the clinics here are accessible only by dirt roads, especially south of Berdzor to Kelbajar and south of the Arax River.

Other health centers which have benefited greatly from such acts of kindness include: Kovsakan Hospital, population 4,000; Ishkanadzor Clinic, population 2,000, and Moshatagh Clinic, population 1,000.
Roads are often unpaved, dangerous and almost impossible to navigate in winter. Emergency cases rarely reach hospitals in a timely manner and babies are often delivered by the side of the road.

The clinic in Moshatagh is located inside a dilapidated school building where three rooms are allocated to medical needs. Three nurses are working here to assist the surrounding villages. The only furniture was two beds and no medical equipment until help arrived from the Knights of Vartan and IMEC.

Berdzor is better equipped with eight doctors, five nurse practitioners, a midwife and 10 nurses. The regional hospital there serves the entire area and has the region’s only pharmacy over 1,314 square miles. An ultrasound machine is brought from another region once a month. Often, though, patients cannot honor their appointments due to a lack of transportation.

In Kovsakan, the situation is just as bleak. Although it is called a hospital, this facility should not be allowed to function as a health center, according to reports. It can only offer consultations, distribute limited medicine, perform vaccination, deliver babies and transport serious cases to a regional hospital. The government plans to build a large clinic to replace the present facility.

“Our team includes dedicated members whose work is a labor of love,” added Medzorian. “We are rewarded many times over with the pleasure and satisfaction we receive knowing that critical supplies are equipment are going to help needy patients in Armenia and Karabagh.” Those interested in donating used medical equipment or a financial contribution to help defray costs may send a check payable to the Knights of Vartan, Armenia Medical Aid Fund, c/o Jack Medzorian, 8 Berkshire Dr., Winchester, MA 01890 or e-mail [email protected]