zavenDr. Zaven Ayanian is scheduled to receive a prestigious award for his volunteerism at the Parker Family Health Center in Red Bank. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)


Dr. Zaven Ayanian has been around a long time. He started practicing as a physician in 1959, the same year Buddy Holly died and Alaska was granted statehood. In that time he’s seen a lot of patients and racked up a lot of awards.

Now, even though he’s retired, he’s getting another award.

Ayanian, 79, will spend the weekend in Washington D.C., where he’ll be feted for his volunteer efforts at the Parker Family Medical Center. During the three-day American Medical Association extravaganza, Ayanian, along with one other physician from Virginia, will receive the Jack B. McConnell, M.D. Award for Excellence In Volunteerism.

He’s certainly put in his time on the volunteering front. Ayanian, a Matawan resident, was there from the very beginning, in 2000, when the Parker center was simply a trailer parked on Shrewsbury Avenue taking walk-ins.

Since then, Ayanian has treated thousands of patients and forged strong relationships with many of them, he said. Coming into the center every other Wednesday, he said, has also helped him keep up his doctoring chops since he retired a decade ago. The award, which includes a $2,500 grant for the center, is a nice recognition for the time he’s put in, he said.

“This is sort of the second leg, and probably final leg, of my career as a physician,” Ayanian said. “I’m flattered, humbled and honored at the same time.”

The award recognizes physicians older than 55 who volunteer their time to provide medical care for those who aren’t insured with health care, which is Parker’s mission.

It isn’t the first award Ayanian has received in his long career. In 1995, he was named physician of the year at Bayshore Community Hospital, where he spent most of his career, aside from a brief stint at Red Bank’s Riverview Medical Center in the early 60s.

“I’ve had a few” awards, he said, shying away from the attention.

That is the kind of person he is, say staff. When he was told by Mary Nicosia, clinic coordinator, and Anne Torre Beebe, who handles public relations, that the clinic was nominating him for the award, he said he didn’t take it seriously.

“(Torre Beebe) kidded me when she wrote it up, she said can you go to Chicago?” he said. The awards are normally held in Chicago or D.C. “Then I walked in here one day, they said ‘you won.'”

Ayanian is so modest that, while being interviewed, he tried to point out all the other doctors at the clinic who should’ve gotten the award. He seems more focused on doing his job.

At the end of the interview with redbankgreen, he joked how the award was costing his patients time since he had to sit down with the press in between appointments.Then he turned to Beebe and said, “I’m going back to work now, OK?”