Planetree: The tree under which Hippocrates, the father of medicine, sat as he taught his students in ancient Greece.

If you stomp down the corridors of New Milford Hospital's medical/surgical wing for adult patients, a sound meter will flash red to tell you "Walk softly."

The same message occurs with loud voices or the clattering of a cart full of dishes. When the noise level rises, the meter's lights move from green to yellow to red, seemingly saying "quiet down."

Instituted in 2009, the meter sare there to make the floor more conducive to patient recovery. They are part of the Planetree philosophy followed by New Milford Hospital since 2008.

"We already had the philosophy in place of putting patients first," said Dr. Fred Browne, the hospital's chief

medical officer. "Planetree membership has given us a path to follow in further achieving

that goal."

More Information

Planetree outreach Community Health Information Center: New Milford Library and online at Ebsco Consumer Health Complete; Plow To Plate cooking classes for middle and high school students; Plow to Plate sponsors a section of the farmers market on the Village Green in New Milford.

Founded in San Francisco in 1978, Planetree is a national, non-profit organization intended to make medical institutions center their care around the needs of the patients.

It stresses a holistic approach to care, including patient choice, compassion, family involvement and the creation of a healing environment.

At New Milford Hospital, doctors follow this model by keeping patients and their families fully informed about their condition and treatment. The medical charts are open to share.

"Being open and transparent, and asking patients their opinions and getting their input, helps patient safety," said Susan Frampton, Planetree's president.

"When they are better informed, if they are asking questions, they are more involved with their care," Ms. Frampton explained. "The patient becomes part of the therapy."

Planetree also encourages integrative medicine (see story) and the New Milford's Plow to Plate program, which brings locally grown produce to the hospital.

"Good food is good for your health," Dr. Browne said. "It makes our patients feel better to eat well."

"Plow to Plate is a great philosophy," he said. "We use organic (for the hospital's food service) when we can get it and local when we can. It started when we transitioned the cafeteria from a less institutionalized format."

Dr. Browne also noted the Planetree Healing Culinary Garden behind the hospital offices, where herbs are grown in season.