RIVER FALLS, Wisconsin –Chris Tashjian, MD, a Family Medicine Physician with Vibrant Health Family Clinics was part of a group of 12 member team of health care professionals who participated in a medical mission trip to Armenia earlier this summer.
Dr. Tashjian learned about Armenian Missionary Association of America through a physician friend he visited while traveling to California in 2011 to watch the Wisconsin Badgers play in the Rose Bowl. The mission was founded by a doctor in southern California to “take care of people in Armenia who wouldn’t otherwise get healthcare.” Tashjian loved the idea of serving those in need and decided to travel with the group the following year. He’s been going back every year since.
Often the Armenian population they serve will only see a Healthcare Provider once a year, which makes the work of the healthcare team challenging. In 2015, the team consisted of five medical doctors, a dentist (Dr. Tashjian’s wife, Barb Tashjian) a dental student, and several interpreters. The physicians see an average of 50 – 70 patients per day for five days. This year they treated more than 1,300 people.
“There is an unending need for healthcare and I love seeing the people get the medicine and care they deserve. The little old ladies offer me hospitality and the little kids offer me hugs for payment. It fills my heart and it’s great,” said Tashjian, who travelled with his wife.
Tashjian shares that he and his wife packed six pieces of luggage for the trip. “Two bags contained toothbrushes, toothpaste and fluoride for the kids. The third and fourth bags contained dental supplies; and the fifth held a portable ultrasound machine. Tashjian and his wife packed clothes for 10 days of international travel in one carry-on bag,” he laughed.
Dr. Tashjian’s involvement in the mission led him to donate 22 hospital beds to a hospital in Armenia. He located the hospital beds at the MatterMore organization in Minneapolis. MatterMore takes in used hospital equipment from all over the Twin Cities and refurbishes the equipment before sending it overseas.
“The major cost came from shipping a container from Minneapolis to Yerevan,” said Tashjian. The beds donated were in full working order and were greatly needed. Dr. Tashjian hopes to donate another container full of equipment next year before he returns to Armenia for his next mission trip.
Dr. Chris Tashjian with a grateful Armenian patient