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Athens Women's Hospital Hosts Some Reporters - 2004-08-20

With more than 20,000 members of the media descending on Athens for the summer games, the city's Olympic committee had to get a little creative with their accommodations.

There are two media villages for journalists within the Olympic complex, Maroussi One and Maroussi Two. However, the number of rooms fell short and a few dozen reporters were sent to stay at the local women's hospital, conveniently located adjacent to the Olympic complex, and just a few meters from the main press center.

Boston Globe reporter Reid Laymance says they learned about their unusual accommodations by email a few months ago.

"And then we got here and it's been very nice," he says. "We actually have suites, we have a sitting area, a bedroom, bath and a half so it's very nice. It's a hospital bed so it's kinda funny, you have the buttons and can move it up and down. And there's a nurse on call in the hall so if any of us gets pregnant during the games we'll be okay."

The lobby of the hospital is bustling with excitement. Not because of the Olympics, but because of the 40 or so expectant mothers and fathers, who are waiting to see the doctor or check into the maternity ward. Doctors in traditional white uniforms chat quietly with families, while the floor nurses talk among themselves at the reception desk. All of them seem to be completely oblivious to a Japanese newspaper reporter who is rushing out the door to cover an Olympic news conference. As for the expectant parents, Reid Laymance says they apparently have other things on their minds.

"I do think they wonder what are these people doing walking through the lobby with computer bags and credential tags, but I think they're more concerned with other things than what we're doing," he adds.

Overall, Mr. Laymance says he and his colleagues are happy with the accommodations. Afterall, it is just a quick walk to the press center. As for notoriously bad hospital food, Mr. Laymance says, "They give us a certificate for breakfast for a restaurant nearby. As far as dinner goes, they're not bringing anything up on trays or anything like that."

Security, which has been tight all over the Olympics complex and venues, is not as obvious at the hospital, but Mr. Laymance says he's not concerned.

"Well, I guess it is a unique situation because they are still functioning as a hospital, but we've gone to get into the complex overall itself, we've gone through security. So we're not too worried about it," he says.

Considering my own accommodations at the media village a kilometer and a half away, the hospital ward sounds like ideal accommodations. The restaurant food there tastes better, the walk is shorter and the bed folds up like a taco.