Dr. Armen Hovhannisyan is a busy man. As an internal medicine specialist on staff at Centinela Hospital Medical Center, his office waiting room is always full with patients. He also shuttles between his office and Centinela Hospital to see his hospitalized patients. However, in late August 2011 the 39 year old Dr. Hovhannisyan abruptly went from being a health care provider at Centinela Hospital to becoming a patient at the very same hospital that he treats so many patients. His intimate experience as a patient began as he was getting into his car in the doctor’s parking lot of the hospital. Thinking that he had been only suffering from a cold for the last several days, Dr. Hovhannisyan was, unbeknownst to him, feeling the ill effects of a much more dangerous illness – acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
ARDS is a life-threatening lung condition that prevents enough oxygen from getting into the blood. It leads to a buildup of fluid in the air sacs which prevents enough oxygen from passing into the bloodstream. The fluid buildup also makes the lungs heavy and stiff, and decreases the lungs’ ability to expand.
Unable to breath, Dr. Hovhannisyan lost consciousness in his parked vehicle and soon went into cardiac arrest. Luckily for him, two of his colleagues, John Anderson, M.D. and Paymon Banafshe, D.O. noticed him slumped over the wheel of his car and managed to reach through an open window to open the driver’s door and pull him out. Immediately realizing the grave nature of his condition, they began CPR in the parking lot and soon had him rushed to the nearby Centinela Hospital ER where he had a breathing tube inserted and his heart re-started through cardiac defibrillation.
Once his condition was stabilized, Dr. Hovhannisyan was transferred to the hospital’s cardiac intensive care unit where he remained unconscious for the next ten days receiving treatment to fight his infection. During this time, the Centinela Hospital staff rallied around his care. He was seen by numerous colleagues to assess his condition. Physician specialists in anesthesiology, cardiology, nephrology, pulmonology, critical care medicine and internal medicine all had a hand in his recovery.
When he finally awoke, Dr. Hovhannisyan says, “I didn’t remember how I became a patient at Centinela Hospital, but I do remember that there must have been at least 20 of my fellow doctors and hospital staff in my room praying for my recovery.” Under a comprehensive treatment plan, Dr. Hovhannisyan’s health quickly improved and he was soon discharged from the hospital. He continues, “I can’t thank the physicians and staff of Centinela Hospital enough for everything they did for me while I was in the hospital. Without their care, I wouldn’t be here right now. There are so many people there that I would like to thank including my colleagues, nurses and hospital staff.”
Now back to full health and back at work, it is hard to believe that just a few short months ago he was hovering near death, but Dr. Hovhannisyan firmly believes someone was watching over him that day. He says, “From the time I was rolled into the ER until my discharge I couldn’t have been placed in better hands. I will always remember the amazing level of care that I received while as a patient of the hospital. I literally owe them my life.”