Howard Memorial




Adventist Health Howard Memorial (AHHM) established a tradition of patient-centered care many years ago and the tradition lives on through the efforts of each of our employees, volunteers and staff. Even though we believe we give great patient care, we can always reach the next tier of Excellence. We have partnered with Planetree to help us do just that and are almost two years into our journey to become a Planetree Designated Hospital.

The philosophy was founded in 1978 in the Bay Area by a patient (Angelica Thieriot) who felt she wasn't being treated in an individualized way. She was lonely and afraid even though the medical center was "high tech." The Planetree model of care is a patient-centered, holistic approach to health care, promoting mental, emotional, spiritual, social, and physical healing. At AHHM we empower patients and families through the exchange of information, and by encouraging healing partnerships with caregivers. We seek to maximize positive health care outcomes by integrating optimal medical therapies and incorporating art and nature into the healing environment.

Planetree's Mission

Planetree is a non-profit organization that provides education and information in a collaborative community of health care organizations, facilitating efforts to create patient centered care in healing environments.

Planetree's Vision

As a global catalyst and leader, Planetree promotes the development and implementation of innovative models of health care that focus on healing and nurturing body, mid, and spirit.

The Planetree Model

Since its founding in 1978 as a non-profit organization, Planetree has continued to be a pioneer in personalizing and demystifying the healthcare experience for patients and their families. Founded by a patient, the Planetree Model is committed to enhancing health care from the patient's perspective. It empowers patients and families through information and education, and encourages "healing partnerships" with caregivers to support active participation. Through organizational transformation, the Planetree Model creates healing environments in which patients can be active participants and caregivers are enabled to thrive.

Components of The Planetree Model

Human Interactions

Planetree believes that all individuals are caregivers and have the ability to influence the experience of patients and their families. Our focus is on human beings caring for other human beings. This includes providing personalized care for patients and their families as well as creating organizational cultures which support and nurture staff.

The Importance of Family, Friends and Social Support

Social support is vital to good health. Planetree encourages involvement of family and friends whenever possible, offering unrestricted visiting, including in the ICU and ER, and provides the option of family presence during invasive procedures and resuscitation. The Care Partner Program promotes a heightened level of family participation while patients are hospitalized and at home after discharge. Families are encouraged to stay overnight whenever possible.

Empowering Patients through Information and Education

Illness is seen as an educational and potentially transformational opportunity. An open chart policy encourages patients to read their medical records and write in the Patient's Progress Notes. A Self­ Medication Program enables patients to keep medications at the bedside. Collaborative care conferences, patient pathways, and a variety of educational resources provide patients with information and skills to actively participate in their care. Patient and family libraries are available throughout the hospital and Planetree Health Resource Centers, open to the community, offer health and medical information on a wide range of topics including complementary therapies.

Architectural Design Conducive to Health and Healing

The physical environment is vital to healing. Each facility is home-like and non-institutional, valuing humans, not just technology. By removing architectural barriers, the design encourages patient and family involvement. An awareness of the symbolic/semiotic messages communicated by the design is an essential part of planning. Spaces are provided for both solitude and social activities, including libraries, kitchens, lounges, activity rooms, chapels, gardens and overnight accommodation for families.

The Importance of the Nutritional and Nurturing Aspects of Food

Nutrition is integral to healing, essential not only for good health but as a source of pleasure, comfort and familiarity. Health care facilities become role models for delicious, healthy eating, with kitchens available throughout the facility to encourage families to bring the patient's favorite food from home or prepare meals for themselves. Volunteers bake breads, muffins and cookies to provide "aromatherapy" and to create a nurturing environment.

Healing Arts: Nutrition for the Soul

Music, storytellers, clowns, and funny movies create an atmosphere of serenity and playfulness in the Planetree Model. Artwork in patient rooms, treatment areas and on art carts add to the ambiance. Art carts enable patients to select the artwork of their choice. Volunteers work with patients who would like to create their own art, while artists, musicians, poets and story tellers from the local community help to expand the boundaries of the health care facility.

Spirituality: The Importance of Inner Resources

Planetree recognizes the vital role of spirituality in healing the whole person. Supporting patients, families and staff in connecting with their own inner resources enhances the healing environment. Chapels, gardens, labyrinths and meditation rooms provide opportunities for reflection and prayer. Chaplains are seen as vital members of the health care team.

The Importance of the Human Touch

Touch is an essential way of communicating caring often omitted from the clinical setting. Massage and Reiki are available for patients, families and staff. Training programs for volunteers to teach hand and foot rubs, and internship programs for massage therapists keep costs minimal. Nurses, doctors and other staff find massage, even a brief neck and shoulder rub, to be a useful way to deal with stress.

Complementary Therapies: Expanding Patient Choices

To meet growing consumer demand for complementary therapies, Planetree affiliates have instituted heart disease reversal programs, guided imagery, therapeutic touch, acupuncture, Tai Chi and yoga. Aromatherapy's calming effect on agitated patients is useful during labor and MRI's. Pet therapy can elevate mood, lower blood pressure and enhance social interaction.

Healthy Communities: Expanding the Boundaries of Healthcare

Working with schools, senior citizen centers, churches and other community partners, hospitals are redefining healthcare to include the health and wellness of the larger community. Choosing environmentally friendly cleaning products and sponsoring "kid's camps", walking clubs, and community gardens, expands the role of hospitals from illness to wellness.

If you would like to learn more about Planetree go to where we are listed as a Planetree affiliate hospital or contact Jill Damian, Patient Experience Director at