on the first floor of the mental health
hospital are eager for the reconstruction
to reach their rooms.
Shabby dressed patients are disorderly walking
from side to side. Sometimes they come up to the
windows and look down through the cells to take
part in the yard liveliness.
Some faces inside the building frown, some smile.
Construction materials are all over the yard.
Work is in full swing.
After decades of miserable conditions the Syunik
Mental Hospital in Kapan is finally being reconstructed.
"We are saved. We have finally succeeded
in convincing everybody that the psychiatric hospital
is not a lunatic asylum, and the number of people
giving a helping hand should increase," says
Ararat Vardanyan, director of the neuro-psychiatric
According to the director, one of the main disturbing
problems of the hospital has been the condition
of the building. Outside the interest of mainstream
healthcare, the hospital - built in the 1960s
- has been leading a vagrant life.
"Since the foundation day the hospital has
been moved from one building to another for 12
times. As a consequence both the patients and
the staff suffered, and the whole property of
the hospital became almost worthless," says
In 1993, when the Armenian Army wanted to use
the psych hospital for a barracks, psychiatric
patients were moved to the tuberculosis sanatorium.
As a result, eight mentally ill patients contracted
TB and died.
Only after years of struggle and seeking help,
it became possible to separate the hospitals,
moving the tuberculosis patients to another building.
The building, worn out physically and morally,
was left inside the care of the psychiatric hospital.
But about a month ago, reconstruction work began,
with financing from Save the Children and from
the United States Agency for International Development.
According to Vardanyan, reconstruction will cost
$101,500. About $8,000 of the cost is being paid
by Kapan city government.
"Due to the war, social-economic crisis,
and critical conditions of life, the number of
people with mental problems has increased during
the last years," says Ruben Sargsyan, the
vice-governor of the Syunik region. "So,
if for some reason the hospital was out of attention
in the past, today this project is considered
very important, and the community has also made
its investment in it."
years of appeals, director Ararat Vardanyan
is glad to see his hospital get much needed
Sargsyan says that by spring the psychiatric
hospital, having overcome so many difficulties,
will be the most modern in the republic.
According to construction workers, in case of
favorable weather, the new hospital will be ready
in January of 2004. Two floors of the hospital
will be completely repaired, and patients will
be treated more effectively in new and bright
"There were some cases when the patient,
seeing the terrible conditions of the hospital,
refused being treated here, saying that he can't
be cured in such conditions," Vardanyan says.
"The walls were crushed, the doors were broken,
and the condition of the wood floor was beyond
imagination. Very often the patients had to walk
on the concrete."
According to the chief doctor, there were also
cases when relatives refused to leave the sick
patient in such conditions.
"It was extremely difficult for us to work
in those terrible conditions as they can delay
the patient's cure, creating numerous difficulties
for doctors," Vardanyan says.
According to Vardanyan, provisions have been
made for a music room, where patients can express
themselves through music. The yard will include
a pavilion for rest and there will be a small
workshop of wood and metal working as well as
a place for sewing.
According to statistics, more than 2,100 mentally
ill are registered in the Syunik province. However,
according to specialists, the true number is much
Editor's Note: Over the past six years, reporter
Grigoryan has written stories pointing out the
inadequate conditions of the Kapan hospital. Doctors
at the hospital say her stories helped bring attention
to their needs and were a catalyst for getting