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Hospitals Turn to Spa-Like Atmosphere to Attract Women Patients

Hospitals Turn to Spa-Like Atmosphere to Attract Women Patients

Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Fort Worth, Texas)

December 28, 2009

FORT WORTH, Texas – Forget the sterile surroundings, drafty gowns and anxiety-provoking silence that often goes with medical tests.

How about a massage, relaxing music and embarrassment-proof exam gowns for that mammogram?

To attract patients, hospitals are finding ways to take some of the stress out of women’s medical care.

When Felicia Crutchfield had a procedure performed at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Grapevine, Texas, she was surprised by the calm surroundings. As she lay on the exam table covered in plush linens, images of clouds danced over her head.

“It almost feels like you’re at a hotel,” said Crutchfield, of Keller, Texas. “It just does not look like a hospital, and it certainly doesn’t smell like one, either.”

This year, the hospital began offering Spa Saturdays, with massages, refreshments and gifts such as manicure kits and pink umbrellas.

The atmosphere was casual, not clinical, said Maureen Aschman, nurse coordinator for breast care services at the hospital.

“Women were chit-chatting and enjoying the spa treatment,” she said.

Mammography parties are catching on around the country. Some hospitals pick women up in limos, while others, such as the Heart Hospital Baylor Plano in Texas, combine screenings with makeup consultations, gourmet lunches and chair massages.

Such extras are a way to meet the community’s demand for a higher level of service, said Dee Dee Ogrin, director of marketing for Baylor Regional.

“There are so many options out there and we want to stand out,” she said. “A mammogram is not the most fun thing to do, but if we can make the experience more tolerable by offering a spa-like environment, we might be able to get more women to want to do it.”

The effort to make mammograms more pleasant comes as the number of women getting the screening has declined slightly and a government-appointed task force called for women in their 40s to forgo the screening.

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