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It's a Clinic; It's a Resort; It's Both

October 29, 2000

There you are, floating around the resort pool, not a care in the world. Nearby, the blood test you just had is revealing hormones run amok.

That's not too farfetched a scenario as the spa craze spills over into medicine. Last week, clinics overseen by doctors and offering high-tech screening tests opened at La Quinta Resort & Club near Palm Springs and Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu. They are aimed mainly at affluent baby boomers.

At WellMax Center for Preventive Medicine at La Quinta, you can order a la carte, so to speak, and get ultrasound tests ($150 to $700) on your thyroid, pancreas and other organs; memory and other cognitive tests ($95 to $150); and blood tests ($20 to $295) for everything from cancer to hormones. Or order the works: a four- to five-day "comprehensive physical" for $7,000. Results go to your primary care physician. Telephone (800) 621-5263, Internet http://www.wellmax.com.

Holistica Hawaii Wellness Center at Hilton Hawaiian Village features electron beam tomography (EBT), an X-ray screening technique similar to a CT scan that is designed to uncover early heart disease, among other conditions. So far, only EBT scanning of the heart ($495) is available at the center. Other EBT scans plus ultrasound, blood tests and "virtual colonography" are planned. The center is scheduled to move to Hilton's new Kalia Tower when it opens in May. It then will offer a seven-day, $9,000 testing package that includes spa treatments, said spokeswoman Robyn A. Schaefer. Tel. (808) 951-6546.

A couple of caveats: Health insurers often will not pay for these tests, and some are controversial. Critics say CT scans of healthy people, for instance, waste money and cause false alarms; defenders say they detect diseases early.

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