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Hospital taps into power of flowers

Garden will be visible both inside and out

SHARE Hospital taps into power of flowers

Blanket flower and blue bonnet, rose and lupine are all part of the treatment that will be served up when the Huntsman Cancer Hospital opens around July 1.

A picture window of one-way glass will allow patients from their rooms to look out on the outdoor plaza, to what those who created the hospital hope will be a healing garden. More than that, they hope patients who aren't too ill will be enticed outside to enjoy fresh air above the city's smog.

The flower beds encircle the area, filled with lupine and gaillardia, butterfly weed, pale roses, tiny poppies, pink columbine and other flowers, rising in tiers to a bank of trees against the foothills.

It would be a lovely spot for a wedding reception or community event like a press conference, but such ventures are not in its future, said Linda Aagard, spokeswoman for the hospital and the adjacent Huntsman Cancer Institute. At first they worried about patient privacy, but the one-way glass means no one can see into a patient room, though the patient can see out. But the focus is on what the patient wants to see, and a reception or a press conference is probably not high on that list.

"If you're in the hospital with cancer, you may not feel festive, and to see others being festive may strike a jarring note," Aagard said. Instead, it's to be a place specifically for patients and their guests to meditate, visit, simply take a breather.

During the winter, if past experience holds true, patients will be able to see wildlife like moose work their way across the snow-laden slopes.

Besides bringing patients into the great outdoors, efforts have been made to bring outdoors into the patient, she said, from the indigenous plants growing in the lobby planter to the vistas built into the hospital design.

"People with cancer may feel shut away from the world," said Aagard of the decision to bring the world inside. "What a shame it would be not to use nature's landscaping."

The hospital planners are as proud of the patient- and family-focused amenities as they are of bringing the latest technology and treatment options to the area.

Among those amenities are a restaurant that includes a pizza oven, a nondenominational chapel, a gift shop and a very special styling salon especially for those hospitalized with cancer. Patients aren't limited to getting cuts and styles there. Those who are suffering hair loss because of their cancer treatments can actually be fitted for and order a wig, too.

Each room also has a fold-out couch for a family member to sleep on.

Patients and their families also have access to a full business center with wireless Internet, computer terminals, phones and a copy machine. There's an education center with information about cancer and a lending library where patients can check out laptop computers. Well-wishers will also be able to send patients e-mail messages and e-cards.

The hospital will have 50 in-patient beds, with room to expand down the road if needed.

That's something that's likely, since the number of outpatients has increased by about 3,000 each year at the Huntsman Cancer Institute since it opened in 1999.

The hospital will be dedicated June 21, and patients will start being admitted about 10 days later. Patients who are already in University Hospital will stay there, but new admissions will go to the cancer hospital as cancer services begin moving up the hill to the new facility.

Architectural Nexus designed the hospital, while Eric Lyman did the landscape architecture.

E-MAIL: lois@desnews.com