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Planetree at Griffin Hospital


Planetree Inc. is a consumer healthcare organization dedicated to humanizing health care. The Planetree, or sycamore tree, is the tree under which Hippocrates, the founder of modern medicine, sat when he began teaching his medical students many centuries ago.

In 1992, Griffin Hospital instituted Planetree, an innovative model of healthcare that puts patients' needs first. Griffin Hospital is the flagship of the Planetree network of hundreds of hospitals in the United States, Canada, South America, Japan and the Netherlands. Every aspect of care at Griffin Hospital is shaped by Planetree principles - from our welcoming, comfortable interiors, to our emphasis on patient and family education and involvement, to our exceptional healthcare. As a result, Griffin Hospital receives consistently high patient satisfaction scores. The components of the Planetree model are designed to empower patients, to foster their independence, to honor their humanity, and to enhance the healing environment at a time when they often feel vulnerable and anxious

The primary focus of Planetree is to deliver healthcare in a manner that works best for patients.  In a patient-centered approach to healthcare, providers partner with patients and their family members to identify and satisfy the full range of patient needs and preferences. Patient-centered care is the core of a high-quality health care system and a necessary foundation for safe, effective, efficient, timely, and equitable care.

The Planetree Philosophy

We believe…
  • that we are human beings, caring for other human beings
  • we are all caregivers
  • care giving is best achieved through kindness and compassion
  • safe, accessible, high quality care is fundamental to patient-centered care
  • in a holistic approach to meeting people's needs of body, mind and spirit families, friends and loved ones are vital to the healing process
  • access to understandable health information can empower individuals to participate in their health care
  • the opportunity for individuals to make personal choices related to their care is essential
  • physical environments can enhance healing, health and wellbeing
  • illness can be a transformational experience for patients, families and caregivers

Planetree Components

  • Human Interaction: Human beings caring for other human beings, creating a healing environment for patients, families, and staff members.
  • Family, Friends, & Social Support contribute to the quality of the hospital experience by promoting caring connections between the patients and their support systems.
  • Information & Education: Patients, families, and community members are provided with increased access to meaningful information.
  • Nutritional & Nurturing Aspects of Food: Choice and personalized service, in combination with sound nutrition practices, add pleasure, comfort, and familiarity.
  • Architecture & Interior Design: The Planetree design considers the patients’ wellbeing. The hospital is welcoming and accessible, providing clearly marked signs for direction, comfortable and familiar rooms, and designs that engage the senses and break down barriers.
  • Arts & Entertainment: Music, artwork, theater, crafts, and clowns offer engagement and enjoyment to enhance the clinical environment.
  • Spirituality: Planetree recognizes the vital role of spirituality in healing the whole person. From chaplains to meditation programs, hospitals can provide opportunities for reflection and support of spiritual needs.
  • Human Touch: Touch reduces anxiety, pain, and stress, benefiting patients, families, and staff members.
  • Complementary Therapies expand the choices offered to patients. Aromatherapy, therapy dog visitation, acupuncture, and Reiki are offered in addition to clinical modalities of care.
  • Healthy Communities expand the boundaries of health care. Working with schools, senior centers, churches, and other community partners, organizations are redefining healthcare to include the health and wellness of the larger community.


Planetree was first introduced to Griffin Hospital over 20 years ago as a prototype on the renovated East A and B patient care units. The Planetree patient-driven care philosophy was expanded hospital-wide upon completion of the North Wing in June of 1994. The North Wing is the first facility in the nation to be designed and constructed around the Planetree philosophy and remains the largest fully-Planetree facility in the nation.

The Planetree model was founded on the belief that if patients have access to information regarding their illness and hospitalization, they can become active participants in their own health. Planetree units maintain a policy allowing patients to read their own charts at any time and ask questions of their physician and nurse about what they read. Educational materials are provided in satellite resource centers located on each unit for those who wish to learn more about their illness, diagnostic tests and medication.

Incorporating the Planetree Model

The Planetree model is patient-centered rather than provider focuses and is committed to improving medical care from the patient's perspective. At Griffin Hospital, in addition to full kitchens, patient and family lounges are on each unit. One is a quiet lounge that features a saltwater aquarium and the other is a music lounge where patients and their families can enjoy the talents of the various musicians who staff the daily Arts and Entertainment Program. To further foster education and communication, there are no "restricted zones." The traditional nurse station is replaced with an open workplace that anyone can use - patients and families alike. The unique design of our patient units on the North Wing places the primary nurse just outside the patient's door.

In 2000 a Healing Garden was designed by one of our physicians who also provided funding to create it. The garden is now in full bloom. The smell of lavender wafts through this peaceful garden surrounded by plants and herbs that encourage healing and meditation. Healing plants include lavender, Bee Balm, St. John's Wort and many more along with colorful day lillies and small shrubs. There is a small freshwater pond and two benches for visitors to rest.

Planetree Programs

Other Planetree Programs include the Precious Cargo Program designed to ease anxieties of our young patients.  Our pediatric patients can get a ride from the Lobby to Same Day Surgery, Radiology or the Emergency Room in a bright red Radio Flyer Wagon. These wagons are outfitted with canopies and cushions sporting rain forest and fish motifs.

Another recent Planetree program was initiated from a patient's suggestion to provide e-mail access for patients and their families. Our satellite resource centers are equipped with state-of-the-art computers boasting high-speed Internet connections so patients who are on our floors can stay connected to their families, jobs or friends.

Programs & Services


Griffin Hospital incorporates the core components of Planetree through the following programs and services:

Arts and Entertainment

Griffin Hospital’s Arts and Entertainment program provides nutrition for the soul using arts (which are not limited to – but include music and nature). The sounds of violinists, pianists, flutists, harpists and other musicians can be heard throughout many areas of the hospital. Story tellers, recreational games, computer access and free movies also help create an atmosphere of serenity that promotes healing.

Caring for the Caregiver

Realizing that recognition is important to foster a collaborative work environment, Caring for the Caregiver is an organizational philosophy that is committed to promoting respectful communications, positive reinforcement and acknowledgement needed to facilitate the care of the caregiver. Maintaining a positive work environment, adequate recognition practices to reward employees for a job well done and opportunities for staff betterment - whether through wellness programs, educational programs or opportunities to decompress from stressful moments - are commonplace at Griffin Hospital.

Healing Environments

Planetree has influenced design features at Griffin Hospital which considers the patient’s well-being. The hospital is welcoming and accessible, providing an optimal healing and nurturing environment. Clearly marked signs for direction, the use of natural lighting, balconies, fish tanks, carpeted floors, comfortable rooms and designs that engage the senses and break down the barriers, are just some of the unique design elements. Patients can access home-like, non-institutional areas such as unit-based kitchens, lounges, family spaces, gardens and a chapel with an inspirational stained glass window.

Healthy Communities

As a community hospital, Griffin Hospital doesn’t just treat illness but also serves to promote the overall health of our community by working with schools, senior centers, churches and other local partners to offer an extensive array of screenings, support groups and educational programs. The Community Outreach/Valley Parish Programs reach out to more than 30 community locations each month.

Human Interactions

The quality of the hospital experience can be greatly improved by promoting caring connections between the patients and their support systems. Effective communication between all caregivers, patients and their families is a vital element of good healthcare. Griffin Hospital believes in advocacy for all patients entrusted in their care so that they may find emotional, physical and personal comfort. One way this is achieved is through regularly held Patient Care Conferences. At these conferences, the goal is to  “treat the patient before the disease,” anticipate patient needs, and run focus groups about what may be getting in the way of being able to provide patient-centered care.

Human Touch

Touch reduces anxiety, pain, stress and benefiting patients, families and staff members. Griffin Hospital’s trained volunteers and licensed massage therapists are at the service of patients, family members and co-workers to provide ‘soft touch’ and therapeutic massages. Creating connections in a caring and compassionate way promotes healing, comfort and inner peace.


Nutrition is essential to healing. Food is needed not only for good health, but also as a source of pleasure, comfort and familiarity. Custom-made and culturally diverse meals are offered upon request. Good nutritional practices are promoted through constant education (printed materials, web site recipes, and with cooking demonstrations on healthy eating practices).

Patient Education / Access to Information

Striving to promote access and delivery of understandable health information is of paramount importance to what Griffin Hospital staff wants for their patients. Patients, families and community members are encouraged to be actively involved in decisions affecting their care and well-being through access to meaningful information – whether that is when reviewing medical records, medication materials, informed waiting practices, diagnosis-related information and discharge instructions. All medical chart information is available to patients 24 hours a day.


Planetree recognizes the vital role of spirituality in healing the whole person. Griffin Hospital is committed to fostering an environment of care that encourages each patient, family and staff member to utilize their particular spiritual or religious path as a resource for health, wholeness and healing. From chaplains to meditation programs, opportunities are offered for reflection and support of spiritual needs.

Designated with Distinction by Planetree

Contact Us

Planetree Programs & Volunteer Services
(203) 732-7555
To contact Planetree, Inc., call (203) 732-1365.

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