In 2016, less than 3 months prior to the Symposium being held in Orlando we woke up to the news of the Pulse Nightclub Shooting. That week we were scheduled to send out one of our marketing emails encouraging folks to register for the event. We just could not do that in good conscience so instead we sent out a message of support for Orlando. In fact my column that month also addressed the tragedy. I sit here this morning and my to-do list includes writing this column. As I look at a blank document my thoughts are consumed with last week’s tragedy in Parkland, Florida. Our event is still 8 months away and we will be returning to Austin, Texas not Florida this year so I could very well continue business as usual.
17 families in Florida will not have their loved ones come home again. First responders had to go into the sanctuary of a high school that looked more like a war zone. Healthcare workers at area hospitals had to treat the 14 others who were injured and experienced a horrifying ordeal. All of the surviving students, teachers and staff have to live with what they experienced. For all of those people, today it is not even close to business as usual.
At the core the Symposium may be about bringing people together to learn, but it is the comradery and connection that I see each year and watch it spill over into your lives away from the event that gives me my faith in humanity in times like this.
Each year we address serious topics such as disaster response and unfortunately that continues to be a hot topic because of so many recent events. My team’s job is to produce a conference and tradeshow that serves the industry by shining a spotlight on trends, products and services that allows innovation and advancement in the design and construction of healthcare facilities. It might not be life and death work but the environments you create see a lot of life and death. The spaces you design hold people in their most vulnerable moments. Which is why we try to create an event every year that gives you the best opportunity to learn the newest developments. But let’s be honest you can read about advances in magazines and blogs or listen to webinars and podcasts. What makes the difference is the people – when you come to the event you not only learn from speakers and exhibitors but you also spend time with all the other attendees. You make connections that enrich your professional and personal life. It is those connections that make it worth taking time from your schedule to attend each year.
Today I will say a prayer for the victims of yesterday’s shooting in Parkland. I will hold my family and friends a little tighter. I will donate to the fund to support the community of Parkland. And I will look forward to seeing all of you in Austin where we will continue the work of trying to improve the delivery of healthcare for those who need it in times of crisis but also for those who need it in times of joy.
Be well, Jenabeth
Jenabeth Ferguson Vice President, Symposium Director Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo
P.S. Have a thought about the Symposium? Please feel free to contact me at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.