AAMS Responds to COVID-19 Crisis


In the spring of 2020, as COVID-19 began to take hold across the world, the Armenian American Medical Society (AAMS) pivoted from our planned agenda to focus on organizing a rapid response to the pandemic, both locally and on Armenian soil. Because the information on all aspects of the pandemic — from transmission and treatment to prevention — changed from day to day and even hour to hour, it was imperative to create a mechanism to rapidly disseminate this information.

The urgency of this project, as well as the newly enacted stay-at-home orders, made online education the logical and best choice for this task. The AAMS created a COVID-19 CME/CDE webinar program to educate our local healthcare professionals on every aspect of the pandemic. The first webinar took place in April and since then, 28 webinars – 48 CME credits and 58 Dental Credit webinars — were presented through Zoom. Topics included treatment, prevention, mental health aspects of the pandemic, and practice issues.

“The AAMS was developing a webinar CME program prior to the pandemic, because of the platform’s convenience and its ability to reach a more geographically broader audience of healthcare practitioners,” said Kevin Galstyan, MD, FACOG, president of the AAMS. “The pandemic spurred us into action. The webinar program was extremely well received by our members and it will now be a permanent part of our CME and CDE program, post-COVID.”

These COVID-related CMEs were a touchpoint for the exchange of information and ideas on how to best handle the crisis and serve the community’s needs. Additionally, the bimonthly AAMS television program, Your Health, turned its focus to directly educating the community about all facets of COVID-19.

From early on, Armenia was struggling to overcome barriers that hampered its ability to effectively respond to the crisis. The Armenian Medical International Committee (AMIC) spearheaded a collaborative response effort between the organizations that serve under its umbrella, including the AAMS.

AAMS members sat on committees to advise on issues related to supplies, protocols, and training. They assisted in providing COVID education and training to healthcare providers, enabling rapid dissemination of information as it became available.

The AAMS also assisted in procuring and shipping vital medical supplies, and PPE, including masks, protective garments, and thermometers for Armenia.

Vicken Sepilian, MD, FACOG, president of AMIC as well as the AAMS past president, was involved in the development and implementation of the pandemic response. “The collaboration of AMIC and its affiliated organizations helped prevent a worst-case scenario for Armenia,” said Dr. Sepilian. “Using the latest and innovative technologies, we were able to bring to Armenia the latest scientific and clinical knowledge on proper management and prevention of COVID-19 to healthcare workers in Armenia — information from renowned experts on the frontlines of the fight throughout the world. We are grateful for the energy and generosity of all of our affiliated organizations who truly stepped up in a collaborative manner in this global time of need.”

The AAMS is equally grateful for the opportunity to work with our sister organizations to ensure our local communities and our homeland received the necessary education and supplies to remain safe and secure during this global crisis.