The ceremony, which took place on the premises of the new healthcare facility, was attended by several high-ranking Armenian government officials headed by President Serzh Sargsyan, as well as a large delegation of benefactors and supporters, including some 30 guests from France.
The construction project, valued at more than 432 million AMD (U.S. $1.2 million), was jointly initiated in early 2009 by the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund’s French affiliate, the French-Armenian Doctors’ Association (Association de SantÈ Franco-ArmÈnienne, based in Marseille), and the department of Bouches-du-RhÙne, a large administrative area in the south of France. Among those who contributed to the project was Saad Hariri, prime minister of Lebanon, while a considerable portion of the financing was provided through a bequest to the fund by French-Armenian benefactor Krikor Shahinian.
The Zangezur Cardiology Center will be the only one of its kind serving the population of southern Armenia and Artsakh. The two-story facility will feature departments of echocardiography, electrocardiography, radiology, stress-testing, angiography and angioplasty, and other urgent procedures, an intensive care unit, an emergency room, a laboratory, and eight patient rooms with two beds each. The structure is equipped with central heating and a water main of its own.
The Zangezur Cardiology Center is slated to become fully operational by mid-2011, when it will be provided with furniture and state-of-the-art medical equipment, donated by the French-Armenian Doctors’ Association.
“While the construction and renovation of water and gas networks, schools, hospitals, libraries, and cultural centers remain our priorities, the development of healthcare facilities has seen a marked boost this year,” said Ara Vardanyan, executive director of the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund. “Given the deplorable conditions of so many of Armenia’s medical establishments, especially in far-flung regions, it is extremely gratifying that our benefactors are focusing increased attention on helping rebuild the republic’s healthcare sector.”
Commenting on the rationale for building the Zangezur Cardiology Center in Goris, project coordinator Dr. Mher Sousani, a surgeon at Yerevan’s Nork-Marash Medical Center, said, “The French benefactors of the initiative, particularly specialists representing the French-Armenian Doctors’ Association, chose Syunik as the site of the future cardiology center after an extensive study of the region’s geographical location, existing medical facilities, and areas of need.”
“Ultimately Goris was chosen for its proximity to Kapan, Sisian, and Artsakh alike,” Dr. Sousani continued. “Even though there is a cardiology department at Goris City Hospital, the French specialists determined that the region needed a dedicated cardiology center, capable of providing urgent care as well as comprehensive treatment for all but the most critical of cases.”
It is estimated that annually there are up to 50 new cases of acute coronary syndrome (ACS) and myocardial infarction (better known as heart attacks) in the Syunik Region. Patients suffering from these conditions require urgent medical care. If treatment, ranging from thrombolytic therapy to angioplasty and stenting, is not administered within the first few hours of an ACS occurrence and particularly a heart attack, the result can be fatal. While it is possible, though not easy, to transport heart patients from other regions to Yerevan for timely treatment, it is almost impossible to do the same with patients in Syunik and Artsakh, given the long distances and, in winter, roads that often are rendered impassable due to severe weather.
The Zangezur Cardiology Center will be able to administer up to six emergency procedures as well as provide care to up to 16 inpatients and 20 outpatients at a time.
Particular emphasis has been placed on hiring a staff of top professionals. Thus the facility’s personnel will include many experienced physicians who have received their residency at the Nork-Marash Medical Center. Initial estimates indicate that the medical staff of the Zangezur Cardiology Center will comprise close to 45 professionals. In addition, the staff will closely collaborate with the French-Armenian Doctors’ Association in order to keep abreast of the latest in medical advances and technologies as well as maintain optimal service quality.