HOSPITALS CONTINUE TO INCREASE SPA SERVICE OFFERING

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Spa treatments such as aromatherapy and massage are being offered in hospitals at a remarkable rate. According to the Wall Street Journal, , the number of medical centers with alternative clinics has jumped to almost 100 in just the past two years, up from fewer than a dozen in 2000. With hospital profits sinking 38% between 1997 and 2001, hospitals say they're simply responding to patient demand.

Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minnesota advises patients with heart problems to try massage and music therapy along with their chest scans and blood tests before undergoing valve-replacement surgery. The hospital's heart institute now includes a holistic-medicine program where patients can listen to Bach right after surgery or meditate to hilltop images.

Hospitals and that alternative therapy is proving helpful for thousands. But some doctors worry that offering treatments like herbal medicine and meditation may just create false hopes, and that this is more about filling beds.

Just a decade ago, it would have been almost unheard of for hospitals to offer such services. Today, the National Institutes of Health runs a $100 million program to fund such studies on alternative medicine, and about one-third of medical schools are offering elective courses on alternative care. Hospital-based clinics say patient rosters have doubled or even tripled in the last two years, the WSJ article stated. The article goes on to say that, despite the growing popularity of holistic hospitals, many of the programs are surviving only through grants.