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ILL TEENAGERS `CHILL OUT’ IN U. HOSPITAL’S OWN CLUB MED

SHARE ILL TEENAGERS `CHILL OUT’ IN U. HOSPITAL’S OWN CLUB MED

It's not St. Thomas, Cancun or Paradise Island.

But it's close enough.Like adults who escape to to Club Med, the University of Utah Hospital's version of the dream resort gives teens a chance to also evade life's pressures - not to mention the non-stop stream of doctors and nurses.

Club Med, more commonly known as Room 521, is a new lounge in the hospital's pediatric/adolescent care unit - a getaway, hideaway where teenagers can lie on a carpeted floor and play Nintendo, while UB40 tunes crank out in the background.

The lounge, a patient room transformed into an inviting suburban family room, is particularly popular with cystic fibrosis and kidney patients whose repeated visits to the hospital can last two weeks or more.

Goodies not on the hospital's standard menu are made to order.

The teens choose and cook their favorite food in the lounge's kitchen. Moms or dads often don the aprons - giving parents a chance to be part of the health-care experience.

But most important, Club Med provides teens with a "safe, relaxing place to hang out." No medical procedures are performed in the lounge, which has been set aside for socializing.

For teens, privacy, independence and control are of primary importance, but in a hospital setting young patients are deprived of all that, said Laura Gaynard, the hospital's coordinator of child life services.

"As a teen, you want your own space. That is why the U. Hospital recently opened Club Med," Gay-nard said. "Although the concept of a teen lounge is not new, Club Med is a first of its kind in the state."

Room 521 is a place to "chill out" - as young people say - and just be themselves instead of people with medical problems.