WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, October 25, the new US Ambassador to Armenia John Heffern, along with his wife, Libby, and Dr. Jatinder Cheema, the director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission, visited the Armenian American Wellness Center in Yerevan. They presented a Certificate of Appreciation to Khachanush Hakobyan, the executive director of the Wellness Center, for the center’s work in providing quality health care to the women of Armenia as a partner to USAID.
“We are honored that Ambassador Heffern chose to visit the Wellness Center within the first month of arriving in Armenia,” said Hakobyan. The Wellness Center has become the hallmark of American expertise and quality and also of the latest technology and medical services in Armenia. American values are reflected in the level of transparency, accountability, and high quality medical care that the Wellness Center holds as its guiding principles. The Armenian American Cultural Association (AACA) is the US sponsor of the Wellness Center.
The Wellness Center, since its inception in April 1997, has been led by two volunteers: Rita Balian and Hranush Hakobyan, the latter currently Armenia’s minister of the diaspora. “This project has become a reality largely because of its dedicated volunteers and the financial support from the Armenian-American community and our longstanding partnership with USAID,” said Balian.
John and Libby Heffern, as well as Cheema, were impressed by the transformation of the Wellness Center building into the modern facility it has become. Less than 10 years ago, the government of Armenia, in appreciation of the work done, donated the land and the Soviet-era building where the clinic was previously located on the first floor to the Wellness Center. The center is registered, incidentally, as the first notfor- profit foundation in Armenia.
Through the hard work and dedication of architect/builder Vartkess Balian, together with architect Osep Sarafian from Detroit, they conceived the new design of the building and supervised the team of local architects and subcontractors, to reconstruct, expand, seismically reinforce and renovate the building to become a state of-the-art, six-story medical and conference center. During the years of construction, AACA worked closely with USAID and has supplemented US government funding with private donations from thousands of Armenian Americans to expand the Wellness Center.
The Wellness Center currently has seven departments, including the newly established Men’s Health Diagnostic Program for prostate cancer screening, a full-time pharmacy and an on-site hematology laboratory, in addition to its existing pathology lab.