The organization was founded in California in 1978 and later reorganized by (and put under the control of) Griffin Hospital, a nonprofit institution in Derby, Connecticut, where the Planetree Alliance is now based.
The group charges hospitals and other institutions fees to join and it has a policy of only allowing one hospital in a particular market to join. In addition to presenting itself as an altruistic organization, it promotes itself on its Web site as a tool hospitals can use to attract more patients. As of early 2006, it cost a typical rural community hospital between $20,000 to $30,000 to join Planetree, with prices rising for larger hospitals. For extra services beyond a standard amount, hospitals pay more.
Planetree was founded in 1978 by a patient, Angelica Thieriot. Her experience with hospitals gave her satisfaction with the technology of the institutions, but she said she was appalled by the lack of personalized care. Thieriot recruited Ryan Phelan to help start the organization. The two women met with hospital officials in the San Francisco area and decided that instead of trying to found their own hospital, they would try to convince an existing one to adopt their principles.
The organization's first project was the Planetree Health Resource Center, a library adjacent to Pacific Presbyterian Hospital. The library offered medical texts and books on self-care. Pacific Presbyterian (which later merged with Children's Hospital to become California Pacific Medical Center) eventually agreed to open a 13-bed unit using Planetree's ideas, including giving patients access to their hospital records, open visiting hours and a kitchen available to family members for cooking. Patients had access to videotapes, a nutrition program and massage therapists along with material from the library.
The organization's name and network of affiliations were bought in 1998 by Griffin Hospital, a nonprofit institution in Derby, Connecticut that was one of the hospitals already in the alliance.
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