Mom was incredibly frail, so I would frequently speak with Mariana. She was amazing—so patient and understanding. The doctors were always available when we asked them to come and check on Mom’s progress.
Although 83-year-old Elizabeth Keshishian struggles to recognize much of the world that surrounds her, she does remember a time when the AGBU Ahramjian Medical Center was a school. As she sits in her apartment less than 100 meters from the institution, her two daughters confess that if it were not for the invaluable services provided by the center, their mother would almost certainly not be here today.
Keshishian, who suffers from Alzheimer’s and hypertension, tripped and fell on New Year’s Day 2023. “I called Mariana [Ayanian], a nurse at Ahramjian, and explained that I needed to speak to a doctor urgently. Despite it being a holiday, she quickly connected me with Dr. Harout Demirjian, the orthopedic specialist, who advised me to call an ambulance and get Mom an X-ray. Even though she wasn’t in any pain, he said it could be a fracture, which it turned out to be, sadly,” says Suzy, Keshishian’s daughter.
After surgery and treatment at a Lebanese hospital, Keshishian returned home. How-ever, within a few days, she began experiencing shortness of breath and high blood pressure. Deeply concerned, Keshishian’s daughters contacted the healthcare center, which was quick to send Dr. Ohannes Arakelian and medical assistant Liana Amirkhanian to her aid. Dr. Arakelian recommended immediate hospitalization, which undoubtedly saved Keshishian’s life.
Post-operative complications from hip surgery coupled with her pre-existing medical conditions resulted in Keshishian spending a week in intensive care. When she was finally discharged, she required round-the-clock care. Thankfully, the team at Ahramjian was on hand to help, offering free home visits, medication, and even a wheelchair to allow Keshishian greater mobility in her home. “Mom was incredibly frail, so I would frequently speak with Mariana. She was amazing—so patient and understanding. The doctors were always available when we asked them to come and check on Mom’s progress,” says Suzy.
Nonetheless, Keshishian’s health woes were far from over. Insufficient movement during her hospital stay led to the development of bedsores. “We’d resolve one issue then Mom would develop something else. We relied on the medical staff at the center, and they were always ready and willing to be there for us,” Suzy adds.
At times, staff from the medical center would visit Keshishian up to twice a week to demonstrate how to clean the wounds and bathe her correctly. “Liana taught me how to apply ointments, administer physiotherapy, and what food to prepare to ensure Mom got the nutrients she needed. I was given moral support and the confidence to take care of my mother alone,” says Suzy.
Now, several months on, Keshishian is able to lead a more dignified life. Fiercely independent, she uses a cane to get in and out of bed and has a walker to move around more freely. “Her memory may not be what it was, but she has a strong will and is determined to do things alone. She has the spirit of a fighter!” Suzy says.
Besides the primary health aspect, Keshishian’s family has benefitted from the center’s myriad services and initiatives, such as food boxes and clothing. They admit that during these critical times—when the financial and psychological burden of living in Lebanon seems almost too heavy to bear—the thought of being able to lean on AGBU Ahramjian and its team of dedicated and caring professionals is a true blessing.
AGBU Ahramjian Medical Center
Founded in September 2018 in Bauchrieh, a densely populated area in the northern suburbs of Beirut, the AGBU Ahramjian Medical Center initially served as a dispensary and had three rooms dedicated to general medicine and dentistry.
Through the support of AGBU and private donors, and under the visionary leadership of director Hampig Mardirossian, the range of facilities at the institution has widened to encompass numerous branches of medicine, including cardiology, ophthalmology, otolaryngology, and pediatrics, among others. In recognition of the scope of its services, AGBU Ahramjian was officially named a medical center by the Lebanese Ministry of Health in 2022.
Today, with a team comprising 25 specialist physicians, the center welcomes patients from all walks of life, many of whom are treated at no cost. Around 800 cases are handled every month across twelve consultation rooms. A recent donation from the Rotary Club Beirut Cosmopolitan has allowed new medical equipment to be purchased, thus medical ultrasounds, panoramic X-rays, and mammograms will soon be added to the growing list of services.
In addition to the heroic work that is carried out at the center, outreach programs are conducted regularly. These include weekly pediatric vaccination drives (available to all nationalities), organized in partnership with UNICEF. Furthermore, AGBU Ahramjian collaborates with NGOs to raise awareness on various topics, including women’s health, family planning, and malnutrition.
The center aims to create additional treatment rooms on the first floor and bring in more specialists, including a urologist, to cater to the growing needs of those who seek affordable, professional, and empathetic healthcare.
“It is because of AGBU and its humanitarian values that we are able to fulfill our mission at the medical center. Indeed, we would not succeed without the instrumental and unwavering support and guidance we receive from the District Committee of AGBU Lebanon, led by president Gerard Tufenkjian. We have created a culture that’s patient centered, family-oriented and inclusive. It is a great privilege to serve all communities, and I know I speak on behalf of the entire team at AGBU Ahramjian Medical Center when I say how much we look forward to welcoming an even greater number of patients in the future,” Mardirossian says.
This article was featured in the 2023 release of AGBU Impact Magazine. For more information on the AGBU Global Relief Fund, click here.