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Retreat Healthcare was founded as the Brattleboro Retreat
in 1834, by a $10,000 donation by Anna Marsh as attested to in her will. The hospital was the first facility for the mentally ill in Vermont, and one of the first ten psychiatric hospitals in the United States. The new facility was patterned on a Quaker concept called moral treatment, a daring departure in the care for the mentally ill. Patients were treated with dignity and respect in a caring, family-like environment that included meaningful work, cultural pursuits, wholesome nutrition and daily exercise. In support of this philosophy, the Retreat pioneered an impressive list of hospital firsts: the first continuous patient newspaper; the first attendant's training course; the first gymnasium, camping programs, swimming pools and bowling alley, and the first self sufficient dairy farm; all reflecting the emphasis on physical well being.