News

Our Heroes of the Republican Maternity Ward

19 August 2020

The first pregnant woman with suspicion of the virus was admitted to the COVID-19 Department of the Republican Institute of Reproductive Health, Perinatology, Obstetrics and Gynecology on March 28. Since that day, the Department has provided services to more than 200 pregnant women from all around Armenia. The employees say, that the first month was the hardest, when a limited number of staff had to work day and night.

Vruyr Grigoryan, who is the Institute's Deputy Director for the Treatment Section, was extremely restrained and modest when talking about their work during the pandemic. He only said, that in the beginning there were organizational difficulties, as the epidemic “visited” unexpectedly. However, after a short period of time, the work of the Department, which was created from scratch, got back on track, and now it goes smoothly. "The only difficulty is operating with protective clothing on," modestly smiles the doctor, who has been working at the Institute for 23 years.

Out of more than 200 serviced patients 174 were confirmed virus positive. All of them were treated at the Institute, as it is the only center in the Republic to carry provide services to pregnant women with COVID-19. Only a few of the cases incurred complications, but no virus-related deaths were reported.

Flora Gharibyan, a midwife, has invested her 38 years of experience and knowledge in the service of pregnant women with COVID-19 from the very first day of the creation of the Department. To our question of how many births did she assist in delivering during this period, she answered by adding together the numbers of separate months, which she remembered by heart. "56 to 57 births," says Mrs. Flora proudly, telling that at the beginning, for about three months, when they were extremely cautious, she handled everything necessary, performing not only her duties of a midwife, but also those of a nurse and a medical attendant. Now, everything goes in order, we are moving forward positively, says the experienced midwife.

The Head of the Department, Aghasi Sharbatyan, an obstetrician-gynecologist, says that now the alertness of the initial stage is behind us and everyone has a work to do. When asked to point out the greatest difficulty they had faced during this period, he remembered the psychological tension of the early months, when much was unknown about the virus, and pregnant women and their relatives were overstressed. During all this period, the medical staff had to not only overcome their own fears and anxiety, but also act as a psychologist, by encourageing the patients who were often on the verge of losing their balance. The 36-years-old doctor Sharbatyan concluded that now the situation, including the psychological stress, has significantly improved.

At the department, we also met Alyosha Toroyan, a young obstetrician-gynecologist, who had been working at the Institute for 7 years and who was actively involved in the treatment of pregnant women during the epidemic. "Of course, it was a very serious experience to work in conditions with such tension. “After, when we learned more about the virus, the tension loosened," the doctor smiles.

During our visit to the COVID-19 Department of the Republican Institute everything was calm and peaceful. Pregnant women were walking in the corridors, and the staff on duty were hurriedly answering our questions and giving in with difficulty to our request to take a photo of them, while mentally getting prepared for the next birth, expected in a few hours.

Throughout the epidemic, UNFPA has not only provided its modest support to the Institute, but also to the pregnant women placed there and to our heroes of the COVID-19 Department - our unambitious superheroes.