SEPTEMBER 24-26, 2024
Austin Convention Center - Austin, Texas

Author: Jenabeth Ferguson


Eight Award Recipients Selected by Industry Leaders

September 19, 2023

Media Contact:
Sophia Lapat
[email protected]

Charlotte, NC –The Healthcare Facilities Symposium and Expo, one of the country’s largest and leading shows dedicated to healthcare design and facilities, announces the prestigious winners of its 20223 Symposium Distinction Awards. The annual program recognizes design teams, projects and individuals who have made a profound contribution to the healthcare design industry. The program accepts submissions of all types and sizes of patient care-related facilities. In addition, it recognizes the best and most innovative new products within the healthcare design and construction industry. A total of eight awards were announced during a lunch celebration on Tuesday, September 19.

“The Symposium Distinction Awards honor and recognize individuals, teams, projects and products making a difference in our industry,” said Jenabeth Ferguson, Vice President, Symposium Director. “Our wonderful judges, James Atkinson
Vice President and Director, Healthcare Design and Planning for HDR, Inc, Marcus A. Budaus, AIA, ACHA, LEED® AP, Associate Principal / Senior Vice President for HKS, INC., Gary W Collins, AIA, NCARB, Senior Director, Healthcare for Virtual Energy Solutions, Rolando Conesa, AIA NCARB Principal for NELSON and Amy Douma, AIA, NCARB, and LEED AP, Vice President for HGA Architects and Engineers, have an important job evaluating submissions to choose this year’s winners and we are so excited to celebrate these important awards together at HFSE.”

Team Award
The Team Award focuses on a project team that has worked together to change the face of healthcare design through innovation, creativity, efficiency and teamwork.

Winner: Banner Desert Medical Center – Women’s Tower Expansion

User-Centered Award
The User-Centered Award recognizes a healthcare design project or facility that best reflects and balances the requirements of patients, their family and practitioners.

Winner: Rush University Medical Center Joan & Paul Rubschlager Building

Adaptive Reuse Award
The Adaptive Reuse Award recognizes a healthcare design project that creatively achieved the reuse of an existing structure or space originally used for another purpose.

Winner: Quinault Wellness Center

Individual Award
The Individual Award seeks to distinguish a professional in the fields of healthcare planning, design, construction and operations that have displayed leadership and vision over a significant period of their career. This award looks to recognize an individual whose passion and driven their organizations or project teams to enhance the healing environment and a way above and beyond.

Winner: Leslie Hanson, Studio Practice Leader, Health, Partner at HKS

George Pressler Under 40 Award 
The George Pressler Under 40 Award seeks the next generation of leaders within the fields of healthcare planning, design, construction and operations. The George Pressler Award recognizes a young professional who has demonstrated leadership and vision within their organization or project teams.

Winner: Alexandra Vigliarolo, RA, Project Manager, Northwell Health

 Product Awards
The Product Awards recognize innovative new products that contribute to the enrichment of a healing environment through their unique design and operational support.

Product Award Categories
Awards will be presented to those outstanding new products whose unique design contributes to the enrichment of a healing environment in each of the following product categories:

Most Innovative

Winner: Vaask

Most Sustainable

Winner: ZippSpace – Smart Soft Locker Solution from Switzerland revolutionizes storage experiences worldwide

Architect’s Choice

Winner: MedSlide Pro

For more information about the Symposium Distinction Awards, please visit


The mission of the Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo is to create a multi-disciplinary environment that inspires you to evoke change and the advancement of a better delivery of healthcare through the physical space. Competitors, clients, and colleagues come together as friends to collaborate, share research, hear fresh perspectives and participate in the ever-changing conversation of your industry.


Rethinking Healthcare Design to Appeal the Workforce Shortage

By Julian Lopez, NCIDQ, IIDA, Senior Project Designer at HMC Architects.

When it comes to healthcare design, the vernacular among architects and designers must revolve around the patient experience, healing environments, and promoting healthier local communities. This common verse among healthcare professionals has not only been mastered, but it has also, from time-and-time again, been regurgitated by the formulations of evidence-based design, positioning architect and design firms to create the next best healthcare facility. Then came Covid-19 and, healthcare facilities have had to reinvent themselves multiple times over the course of the pandemic. How times have changed.

As Covid-19 emerged, not only were entities forced to shut down elective services, but they became the imminent forefront for humanity. Quickly, they found themselves in survival mode for their operating budgets and the lives of their own professionals.
The world has not been the same, and neither has the healthcare workforce after the exhaustion and burnout of facing Covid-19 head-on since early 2020. As a result, the healthcare workforce crisis continues to threaten organizations while hospital employment continues to decline.

“Prioritizing design around the patient experience is no longer the only priority,” said CEO of Alta Hospitals, Hector Hernandez, MD, MBA. “For the first time in my 30 years in healthcare administration, I have had to become extra creative by finding ways to retain nursing and clinical ancillary staff. This has included providing additional break rooms, Zen-type meditation rooms, spaces to provide pet therapy for employees and physicians, while enhancing cafeteria services that operate 24/7, not to mention increasing morgue capacity and providing accommodations for those not wanting to go home due to fear of getting their family sick. Design cannot be ignored because now it accounts for what nurses and staff are looking for when making a decision to join Alta Hospitals.”

What does this ultimately mean for healthcare designers?
More than ever, designing those support areas for healthcare providers such as staff lounges, staff dining facilities and physician on-call rooms, among other spaces, must be closely analyzed and programmatically defined to account for the healthcare workforce incentive factor.
The design-build team of Hensel Phelps | HMC Architects | CO Architects is leading the design and construction of Harbor UCLA Medical Center Replacement Program, one of HMC Architects’ largest healthcare projects. The new 468,000 SF inpatient care tower with 346 beds, as well as a 403,000 SF outpatient treatment center and support building is not only looking closely at what the design means for patient care, the project is analyzing how the design also supports those who care for the patients.
While staff safety has always been crucial for HMC, taking a closer look at what this means coming out of a pandemic has reactivated design efforts into actual checklist of items. At Harbor-UCLA, patient-and-staff interaction hubs such as check-in and registration areas are being designed with aesthetic precaution. Desking must include privacy panels while other areas are divided with transaction glass windows where color and graphics help soothe environments. Taming design to not only care for patient privacy but to now account for enhanced staff protection has meant rethinking space planning layouts where social distance is layered and preferred. Waiting areas where tandem seating once allowed for maximizing occupancy loads are now becoming dispersed and accounting for safety versus overcrowding.
While HMC continues to design in support of enhanced patient care, and operational and sustainable efficiency, the design-build team’s efforts with Harbor-UCLA are consequently addressing the importance for employee mental health as well.

The project is aiming for LEED Gold Certification. Ensuring sustainability goals are met throughout the entire campus program results in strong design efforts that support employee wellness and reducing burnout and turnover.

Aesthetically, the design incorporates the surrounding environment. Local textures and colors of the harbor and calm local South Bay are reminiscent through material textures and curved finishes. Biophilic design concepts are used throughout; expanded visibility of the native landscape and natural light that seeps into the main lobby and other employee and patient areas provide staff and visitors the opportunity to mentally reset and restore.

Hernandez, CEO of three Alta Hospitals in Southern California not only recommends focusing on spaces dictated by our local labor force and younger generations, but emphasized on how we must also address diversity, equity and inclusion for the thousands of nurses and healthcare professional coming from countries such as the Philippines, India, Canada, and Mexico, among others. Their cultural differences must be addressed for their better adaptation and cultural transgression issues related to their relocation to the United States.
According to YM Careers Network, one of many recruiting organizations connecting Millennials and Gen Z healthcare talent with healthcare systems, it is important to have modern, tech-friendly systems in place to attract today’s candidates. It’s important to design for technology systems that support staff communication and efficiency such as remote interview areas, intentional kiosk locations within hospitals, and mobile-friendly interfaces and communication, all of which serve as part of the recipe for a tech-friendly recruitment approach.

For designers, this means having to heighten our knowledge on how we view and design around technology and cultural barriers. Design for the healthcare professional coming from another country and cultural background, must account for religion, gender identification and ethnicity to make them feel welcomed and diminish possible barriers.
At Harbor-UCLA, designing around technology to support staff communication and operating efficiencies means keeping an outlook for future technological needs and not ignoring how future healthcare talent will approach technology. This means not designing wall niches for queuing monitors or a television in public waiting areas, as we are used to doing because we don’t know what the future holds for queuing system technologies or if a television of a specific display size will continue to serve an entire waiting area.
So, what does this all mean for healthcare designers and architects acclimating to this new healthcare era?
The answer is simple. Designing in post-pandemic times requires that we address not only the immediate urgencies that will mitigate a dwindled workforce but that we continue to design for future generations while not overlooking to tune up the true healthcare engine—the healthcare workforce, a locomotive force that served us when we needed them most.

Building the future of healthcare facilities with a concierge luxury approach

By:Joel George MBA, MSN, RN, PhD candidate, Executive Director of Retail Services l Health Parks, AdventHealth

The hospitality industry currently accounts for 11% of the US GDP and is valued at around 3953 billion dollars. Hospitality is one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing industries, as it covers more than 25 sectors, from hotels and resorts to restaurants, event planning, theme parks, and tourism. With the amount of attention to detail the hospitality industry places on their products, why is healthcare not reaching this consumer base by implementing consumer-centric personalized experiential moments in a similar way?

Over the years, I have wondered why healthcare has suffered a negative connotation of being looked at as dark, sterile environments where patients go for reactive care. It is time to change that approach as the new generation of consumers are searching for personalized exclusivity in healthcare. Three years ago, I set a goal to figure out what consumers truly want to see in an ideal healthcare setting. My motto has always been, if we want to know what consumers want, ask them! Starting as a registered nurse and witnessing firsthand what patients actually experience by walking into a dark, sterile environment propelled me to focus on a new vision of consumer centricity and how patients would ideally want to experience a healing environment. I was blessed with an opportunity to serve as director of radiology for a AdventHealth after practicing as an ER nurse for 4 years. The moment I stepped foot into the radiology department, I wanted to transform the patient experience by taking their mind off of the imaging exam they were coming in for and putting them at ease. The entire department was beachside themed with sandcastles covering the MRI machine, cabana areas as dressing rooms, and ocean sounds playing while patients were drinking their contrast media. My goal was to embed the newest innovative technology within the department. We were able to pilot a front desk concierge digital experience to keep family members informed in the lobby as their loved ones were having a procedure or scan done. We saw that through these meaningful enhancements within the environment and use of technology, the administration of sedatives prior and during exams decreased by 2.5%, which helped with overall departmental cost savings.

Three years ago, I was asked to work on a special project focused on dreaming up ideas for the future of health care. The goal was to understand consumer behaviors and understand what patients would like to see in an ideal healthcare setting. The CEO asked eight specialized innovators, including myself to travel to New York and work with a creative agency on ideas that would be consumer-focused and push innovation forward. While there, ideas circled around creating a one-stop shop facility called Health Parks across our healthcare system. We wanted to focus on developing these buildings to have an elevated concierge approach along with a luxury feel. We went directly to the consumer through the implementation of a survey and asked what they wanted to see and experience in a fully immersive medical office building. The themes that were important to them were; a clean environment, one-bill, access (extended hours), and a seamlessly connected experience with a single EMR.

With this feedback, we worked with a team to build out our first “Health Park” in our healthcare system in 2020. The services in the building included lab, imaging, physical therapy, primary care, and specialty medical practices creating a true one-stop facility. It was important to ensure we had natural light in the building with a transparent frontage, along with modern high-end luxury furniture. We also took lessons from major brands such as Apple in creating a genius bar concept front desk registration experience. The hallmark characteristics of these facilities centered around a centralized check-in experience without multiple front desks, partnering with local coffee shops and bringing them into the facility, and training each staff member on a true hospitality approach to healthcare with learnings from major brands like the Ritz Carlton and Chick-fil-A. We also created a connected experience by integrating a corridor that attached all specialty services and primary care together in a free-flowing open layout. This was intentionally built so that each practice could easily refer and transition patients on the same day. One out of three patients continue to receive multiple services on the same day. We solved the problem of healthcare access by expanding hours of operations to 7a- 10p Monday through Friday and weekend appointment availability. Over 30% of our appointments are booked after 5p Monday through Friday and on weekends, showing the need for flexible hours of operations meeting the consumer on their time. Every interaction in the health parks is a hospitality-centric experience. All of the “Engagement Specialists” (front desk associates) have been concierge trained to make sure patients receive everything they need before departing. We implemented a lifestyle program focusing on free yoga, cooking classes, and mental health talks to truly create a partnership with our patients.

My vision has always been evident in ensuring we create lifetime partnerships with our patients. I am proud to say our health parks are the highest Google-rated facilities in our system. Being a visionary who is obsessed with experience, I truly believe that the only way to retain future consumers is to create personalized, humanistic, convenient, and memorable moments for them. The future of healthcare is undoubtedly focused on personalized care, and we have found the secret sauce in truly creating a one-stop connected experience and making our patients lifetime partners at our facilities. The future of healthcare is ripe for disruption, and a consumer-centric approach is crucial to stay viable in the current healthcare environment. We must learn from luxury brands what keeps their consumers obsessed with their brands and make sure healthcare follows suit in understanding learned behaviors and anticipating needs before consumers walk through our doors.

Benefits of Electronic Bidet Seats in Assisted Living

By: Steve Grande, LIXIL Americas

As we age, even the simplest tasks can become difficult to manage. For seniors residing in assisted living facilities or retirement communities, maintaining personal hygiene is a challenge that can lead to embarrassment and discomfort. This difficulty can affect their overall health and quality of life, which is why senior living residences are always looking for ways to improve the daily living experience of their residents. Fortunately, technology has provided a solution to this problem in the form of electronic bidet seats. These seats have revolutionized the way we use the bathroom, and for seniors, they offer numerous benefits that make daily life much more comfortable.

Electronic bidet seats, which originated in Japan, have become increasingly popular in the United States in recent years, are toilet seats with integrated bidet functions. They come equipped with a control panel that allows users to customize the temperature, pressure, and position of the water spray for maximum comfort and cleanliness. Some seats also includes a warm air dryer and odor neutralizer, making the experience as seamless and pleasant as possible.

One of the most significant benefits of electronic bidet seats for seniors is improved hygiene. Many seniors struggle with hygiene issues due to limited mobility or other health issues, which can lead to infections, skin irritations, and other problems. Electronic bidet seats provide a more thorough cleaning than traditional toilet paper, which can leave behind bacteria and other contaminants. This thorough cleaning can help prevent infections and other health issues, making seniors feel more comfortable and confident in their hygiene.

Another benefit of electronic bidet seats is increased comfort. Seniors who struggle with mobility or arthritis may find it challenging to clean themselves the traditional way, which can cause pain and discomfort. Electronic bidet seats eliminate the need for wiping, which can help alleviate this discomfort and help increase the user’s dignity by not needing help in the restroom to clean up. Additionally, many electronic bidet seats feature heated seats, which can be particularly beneficial for seniors who are sensitive to sudden temperature changes.

In addition to these practical benefits, electronic bidet seats also offer a level of luxury that is often associated with high-end hotels and spas. For seniors who may have limited mobility or live with chronic pain, the warm water and heated seat can provide a soothing and therapeutic experience that is unmatched by traditional toilets.

Perhaps the most significant benefit of electronic bidet seats in senior living residences is increased independence. Many seniors struggle with tasks that were once simple, such as using the toilet. This loss of independence can be frustrating and embarrassing, particularly for seniors who value their privacy. Electronic bidet seats can help seniors maintain their independence by providing them with a tool that makes using the toilet easier and more hygienic. This increased independence can help seniors maintain their dignity and self-esteem, which can have a positive impact on their overall well-being.

While we have discussed these very human benefits, electronic bidet seats can also save senior living residences money. Traditional toilet paper can be expensive, particularly if residents require specialized or medical-grade paper. Electronic bidet seats eliminate the need for toilet paper, which can significantly reduce a residence’s annual budget. Additionally, electronic bidet seats can help prevent plumbing issues caused by flushing toilet paper, which can be particularly problematic in older buildings.

Of course, as with any new technology, there are some potential downsides to electronic bidet seats. For example, some seniors may be resistant to using a bidet seat, particularly if they are unfamiliar with the technology. Additionally, electronic bidet seats can be costly, particularly if they are not covered by insurance. With their popularity in the western world growing, we have seen prices drop considerably on electronic bidet seats from even a few years ago. However, many senior living residences have found that the benefits of electronic bidet seats outweigh the potential downsides, particularly when it comes to improving residents’ overall health and well-being. It costs very little to include power outlets at the toilet area in the design and build stage of these projects and retro-fitting existing projects can be done with a simple inspection by a plumber or electrician.

In conclusion, electronic bidet seats are an innovative and beneficial technology for senior living residences. These seats provide numerous benefits, including improved hygiene, increased comfort, and increased independence for seniors. Additionally, electronic bidet seats can save residences money and prevent plumbing issues caused by traditional toilet paper. While there may be some downsides to using electronic bidet seats, many senior living residences have found that the benefits to their residents outweigh the potential drawbacks. Overall, electronic bidet seats are a valuable tool for improving the daily living experience of seniors in senior living residences.


Media Contact:
Sophia Lapat
[email protected]

2023 Attendees Can Expect Cutting-Edge Products, Design Team Gallery, Expert Panels in the Design Solutions Theaters, Networking

Charlotte, NC (July 12, 2023) — Healthcare Facilities Symposium and Expo, one of the country’s largest and leading shows dedicated to healthcare design and facilities, returns to the Charlotte Convention Center, September 19-21, featuring 100+ world-class exhibitors.  Encompassing nearly 10,000 square feet, the Expo Hall will showcase top manufacturers exhibiting exciting new product launches, technology solutions, demonstrations and much more to architects, designers, and healthcare leaders and personnel. The 2023 edition will feature game-changing products and services from both leading and emerging brands and offers unparalleled access to the latest offerings in healthcare design.

“Now in its 36th year, the Healthcare Facilities Symposium and Expo continues to modernize, adjust to keep up with the quickly changing healthcare industry, sourcing the best manufacturers from across the world to solve today’s biggest facility challenges,” said Jenabeth Ferguson, Vice President, Symposium Director. “Each year, our attendees look forward to the grand opening of the exhibit floor and the Symposium Party where they can explore hundreds of products for the first time, take part in hands-on demonstrations and see healthcare environments come to life. This year features an exciting lineup of new products from Kennon Covers’ Suicide Prevention Door to vHealth Lighting BioSync® Tunable White Lights to Sky Factory’s Luminous SkyCeilings™, the only LED Sky Ceilings to LH & Companies patented, tamper-proof Patient Care Sign. HFSE is the only place you find all these products under one roof.”

Experience the latest furnishings, wall coverings, technology, flooring, and healthcare solutions from long-standing, returning exhibitors including WIELAND, La-Z Boy, Whitehall Mfg/AcornVAC, Odulair, Modular Service Company, Mesa Electronics, ETS-Lindgren, Sky Factory, Unicel Architectural Corp. among many others.

“Healthcare Facilities Symposium and Expo provides an incredibly professional venue that brings everyone together around the challenges and opportunities tied to healthcare design and is a premier networking opportunity for a diverse audience. Most importantly, they provide
unparalleled support to their exhibitors.”- Raffi Baltayan, Marketing Manager, Unicel Architectural Corp.

“La-Z-Boy® Healthcare | Knú Comfort® looks forward to attending the Healthcare Facilities Symposium and Expo in Charlotte this fall for an unparalleled opportunity to collaborate with industry professionals, gain valuable insights from diverse perspectives, and engage with
healthcare providers, engineers, and designers on their current challenges and possible solutions. Attendees will have the opportunity to experience weightless comfort firsthand as we showcase the new Durable® Power Series Recliners, featuring fully-adjustable power operation and the world’s first zero gravity position capability in a healthcare recliner.” -Morgan Stephens, Marketing & Creative Manager, La-Z-Boy® Healthcare | Knú Comfort®

This year’s Expo Hall will also feature a roster of 25+ exciting new exhibitors including: Messer Construction Co., St. Onge Company, TransLogic, a Swisslog Healthcare Company, Kurtzon Lighting, OWA USA, Vibe Health by eVideon, vHealth Lighting, Garda
World Federal Services, plus many more.

“Today’s hospitals are seeking innovation partners to accelerate the design and build of the digital patient room of the future. We are bringing our Vibe Health smart room platform to Healthcare Facilities Symposium and Expo to demonstrate how advanced technology, such
as digital whiteboards, digital doors signs and Smart TVs, can deliver the optimal digital experience to patients, families, clinicians, and staff. At HFSE, attendees can explore all the features of our Vibe Health smart room platform, including our robust integrations with hospital
systems such as the EMR, RTLS, voice control, environment control, telehealth, meal ordering and more. We will demonstrate how smart room technology saves nurses time, increases autonomy for patients and families, and improves communication throughout the healthcare
journey for all.” -Julie Bastien, MBA, VP, Marketing | Vibe Health by eVideon

“For more than 40 years, St. Onge Company has served the world’s premier brands as a trusted supply chain engineering and logistics partner. Since 2002, we have done the same for our nation’s best hospitals and health systems. Our legacy lies in the application of industrial engineering expertise to solve today’s most challenging and complex problems while anticipating those of tomorrow. We look forward to exhibiting at Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo to connect with healthcare professionals.” -Jim Kruza, Sr. Director, Healthcare, St. Onge Company

The Design Team Gallery, located in the Expo Hall, is where leading architectural firms showcase their healthcare expertise and best projects and includes two project boards and a 15-minute speaking opportunity in two Design Solutions Theaters. Some of this year’s architecture design firms participating include: Haskell Architects and Engineers, PA, Gresham Smith, Hord Coplan Macht, EwingCole, Perkins&Will, Stantec, HKS, CallisonRTKL, HGA, DLR Group, E4H Environments for Health Architecture, Perkins Eastman, LEO A DALY, Shepley Bulfinch, HDR, and Page. Hear presentations about the most notable projects in the Design Solutions Theaters. This is the place to experience intimate talks from an exciting lineup of industry experts as they present a range of projects in the healthcare world.

For more information or to register, please visit

The mission of the Healthcare Facilities Symposium and Expo is to create a multidisciplinary environment that inspires you to evoke change and the advancement of a better delivery of healthcare through the physical space. Competitors, clients, and colleagues come together as friends to collaborate, share research, hear fresh perspectives and participate in the ever-changing conversation of your industry.



Calling All Emerging Leaders

Lately I seem to receive a retirement notice almost every week. Or, in more upsetting cases I receive word that industry leaders I met when I first became aware of the Symposium in the mid 90’s have passed away. Just this spring alone we lost Robin Guenther and Derek Parker.

On the flip side, every advisory board meeting we’ve held in the past two years we end up in conversation about the dearth of up-and-coming talent.  Conversations range from how folks are recruiting, training and of course keeping emerging leaders within their organizations.  Actually, these conversations started before COVID and of course since then have reached a frenetic pace.

During this time, the advisory board members within their respective organizations and project teams have been identifying emerging leaders and inviting them as their guest to attend the annual Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo.  We’ve welcomed them to the Symposium community, and also listened to their feedback on what they want to get out of attending an annual event. Last year in Long Beach, we had a couple of tables set aside at the opening breakfast for any emerging leader who were attending that wanted to meet each other, and also meet a couple of our board members who could help guide their experience. Those tables were overflowing, and we needed more seats which was a great problem to have and lead us to take the next step forward in 2023.

Earlier this month we launched the Symposium Emerging Leaders Scholarship Program, which is aimed at giving recognition to those individuals with less than 10 years (nonconsecutive) of experience in healthcare design and construction including research and/or education. The recognition includes attending the 2023 HFSE in Charlotte, North Carolina September 19-21 and participating in all activities surrounding the event.

We are very excited to start receiving submissions and selecting the first class of recipients.  Our hope is this is the beginning of fostering the next generation of leaders who will take the Symposium forward for another 36 years.  To learn more about the program please click here and be sure to share it with the leadership in your organization and the emerging leaders you know.

Be well,

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 [email protected].

Hospitals Are Complicated. Let Digital Wayfinding Reduce Anxiety For Patients & Visitors

By: Todd J. Fisher, Founder and Chairman of Intraprise Solutions (Eyedog.US is a Division of Intraprise Solutions, Inc.)

At the end of January, a close family member of mine began to experience heart failure while we were sitting on the couch watching the news. With a jolt of adrenaline, I drove her to the ER, helped her register, and answered questions from clinical staff as they measured her vital signs, performed diagnostic tests, and provided preliminary treatment. Like it is for so many people in hospitals across the US, every single day, the experience was stressful, overwhelming, and emotionally draining.


And, over the next two weeks while she remained in inpatient care, having several tests and multiple procedures, I returned back to the hospital to visit, learn, and serve as an advocate. I was reminded of something I already knew, but had not felt so viscerally before: family members of patients spend a great deal of cognitive energy while supporting their loved ones, often over long periods of time, while hungry, thirsty, and sleep deprived.


In an already emotionally charged, stressful moment, the physical environment of a hospital can exacerbate feelings of anxiety: hospitals are, for a handful of reasons, inherently difficult to navigate. Hospitals often have hundreds of destinations that need to be accessible from any given starting point within and outside the hospital. Large hospitals, on sprawling, multi-building campuses – sometimes merging old and new structures – make navigation less than intuitive. Pedestrians navigating these spaces are often in an emotionally vulnerable state: visiting a hospital as a patient, or as a loved one of a patient, is stressful to begin, and makes navigating an unfamiliar or confusing space feel impossible.



Photo Landmark Navigation: More than Maps


Actually, navigating indoors is tricky even at an emotionally neutral state, especially when using digital wayfinding applications as a resource aimed at ‘simplifying’ the navigation process. We are all familiar with digital navigation systems while driving – in-dash navigation, Google Maps, and Waze have revolutionized the way we find our way while driving.  We don’t think much about how it works, we’re just grateful for the huge improvement over printing out maps, following road signs, tracking mile markers, or heaven forbid, pulling over to ask another human for directions.


As we consider the application of this navigation paradigm to solve a different challenge – finding our way as we move inside large complex buildings – we are quickly reminded that the real feat of Google Maps isn’t so much the tech that makes it all possible, but the simplicity and clarity with which Google communicates directions in cadence with the movement of our navigation. When we can visually match our current location with our surroundings, it becomes easy to see where to go next.


However, when we try to apply this GPS concept to pedestrian indoor navigation, we realize the tech that works wonderfully for navigating in open space while moving at 60mph may not serve us as well in confined spaces at low speed, where our view of the navigation landscape is obstructed by walls and ceilings. What we need is a method that converges with users’ natural way of thinking and effectively accommodates indoor navigation nuances without confusing or frustrating the user.


Thankfully, the scientific community has produced a stable of research regarding how humans think when it comes to matters of spatial awareness. Their key takeaway is our need for visual landmarks, as they are the most efficient way to communicate wayfinding instructions, especially in circumstances such as hospital navigation, where anxiety is high, users are distracted, and cognitive capacity is compromised.


Landmarks allow for fast reasoning because they align with humans’ natural cognitive navigation process. So, how do we incorporate visual landmarks into mobile wayfinding applications? Simple: we use photos!


A method called Photo Landmark Navigation is a more effective technique for indoor mobile wayfinding. Like GPS navigation, it leverages graphing algorithms to generate optimized pathways from one point of interest to the next – think “main entrance to NICU.” The user is presented a narrative sequence of photos showing their surrounding building hallways, rich with design features that serve as visual landmarks. As users reach each new visual landmark, they simply swipe or scroll to the next picture, revealing the next set of landmarks to walk toward.


Unique Hospital Design Means Better Digital Wayfinding


This is where the physical environment of a healthcare campus impacts digital wayfinding, and vice versa. A healthcare facility rich with visual landmarks, unique design features, and noteworthy points of interest makes a great candidate for a wayfinding solution like Photo Landmark Navigation. There are ample visual markers to help users clearly see where they are, and where they are headed. We’ve all visited healthcare facilities with the same paint color lining the multi-floor, multi-building, large campus walls – it’s hard to tell where you are or where to go. With well designed facilities, though, Photo Landmark Navigation works best, because it draws on the natural human instinct to use distinctive physical landmarks to navigate. Seeing those landmark photos on a smartphone screen signals that the user is on the right path. And, in older hospitals with updated designs, periodic additions, and tricky intersections, the same is true: Photo Landmark Navigation solves for wayfinding pain points no matter the setting, because it utilizes existing landmarks as an effective tool for navigation.


At Vail Health Hospital, in Vail Colorado, patients, visitors, and staff have access to a digital wayfinding solution called Eyedog, which uses Photo Landmark Navigation to deliver clear pedestrian directions to users. The solution, designed to eliminate common (and often overlooked) challenges around indoor navigation, enhances the patient experience by providing intuitive walking directions that resolve problems that often cause stress for the entire community, before they arise.


Great digital wayfinding meets consumers where they are, both physically and technologically. At Vail Health Hospital, the Eyedog digital wayfinding solution provides intuitive pedestrian directions that acknowledge the fact that our digital and physical environments have merged. This specific initiative provides effective and efficient digital wayfinding, because it utilizes familiar digital elements that fit seamlessly into the patient experience, ensuring that patients, visitors, and staff can focus on the task at hand, rather than the logistics of finding their way. The Eyedog solution works well at Vail Health Hospital because it eliminates concerns about the fail-points that commonly accompany other types of digital wayfinding, with third party dependencies.


An example of how Photo Landmark Navigation can resolve common challenges associated with digital wayfinding in the healthcare setting, Vail Health Hospital effectively utilizes unique hospital design features as the groundwork for great pedestrian directions via Eyedog Photo Landmark Navigation, merging the physical design elements with an empathetic technology solution.


Changes to the Physical Environment Can Create Confusion


Frequent changes and updates to the physical environment of healthcare facilities are inevitable; updates are a necessary and exciting part of keeping the hospital relevant, competitive, and well-fit to serve the needs of its community. But, those design changes introduce the potential for hidden difficulties for staff and patients, particularly those who are returning patients experiencing the changes in a facility they have visited before: changes to the environment can cause unexpected obstacles in an already turbulent experience. Change is difficult, and clear communication is a key way to reduce the impact of such change. Amid changes in a healthcare facility, Photo Landmark Navigation provides clear communications that extend beyond basic walking directions. Because of the frictionless and intuitive nature of such directions, they can drastically reduce the stress and anxiety felt while navigating confusing healthcare facilities.


Because of the nature of hospital growth, many facilities opt to add or grow in phases. Adding to existing, often older buildings can create confusing, difficult-to-navigate building landscapes; signage is just one piece of a complex puzzle required to effectively provide directions. Staff, who are also learning to navigate a new facility, often find themselves responsible for helping patients to navigate, as well, taking their time and attention from other duties and responsibilities to provide directions. With renovation comes confusion and stress for those working to navigate unfamiliar facilities.


And, for brand new patients, there is an inherent feeling of stress that accompanies navigating an unfamiliar facility. Photo Landmark Navigation is so effective and efficient in all of these settings because it combines high resolution photos of the campus with directional arrows and written directions, designed to help users navigate, regardless of their familiarity with the campus. Because users see on their smartphone screen their exact, current surroundings, a building’s confusing landscape, or out-of-date signage does not negatively impact the effectiveness of the directions.


Attention is Valuable

Photo Landmark Navigation gives patients and visitors intuitive access to effective indoor wayfinding that does not require a lot of attention to use; there are few barriers to entry, enabling successful wayfinding that can reduce the stress and anxiety commonly associated with navigating a new (or changing) healthcare facility. With the option to view a personalized photo route ahead of an appointment, users find a sense of control within their clinical experience.


Enhancing existing wayfinding systems, Photo Landmark Navigation works without requiring any hardware, making it quick to deploy and affordable to maintain. Photos obviate the need for indoor positioning, thereby removing the need for beacons, which are expensive to install and maintain. Such a digital wayfinding solution allows healthcare systems to capitalize on the opportunities afforded by offering an app-less mobile wayfinding solution, dramatically increasing the likelihood of usage and adoption. Instead of only appealing to those users who have taken the time and attention to download an app (likely a tiny percentage of all visitors), you can now offer mobile wayfinding to any visitor with a smartphone. Photo Landmark Navigation technology is unique in that it is complex behind the scenes, but incredibly simple for healthcare systems and their patients, making it manageable and maintainable for everyone involved.


And, we can’t forget that Photo Landmark Navigation is designed to be an addition to traditional wayfinding methods. Effective indoor wayfinding is multifaceted; Photo Landmark Navigation presents directions that use digital technology, but also leans on effective signage, healthcare design, volunteer & staff participation, and community engagement to successfully improve indoor wayfinding woes.


Put simply, Photo Landmark Navigation alleviates the challenges often associated with indoor digital navigation, while spotlighting the unique and beautiful design of a healthcare facility, saving on costs, and improving the patient experience. A creative twist on the driving navigation we all know, love, and rely on, Photo Landmark Navigation is the simple, frictionless, intuitive solution for navigating within complex healthcare facilities. Together with signage, design, and digital wayfinding, healthcare systems can take their digital transformation and patient engagement strategies to the next level, leaning on healthcare design to promise an improved experience for the entire healthcare community.


About Eyedog.US

Eyedog.US offers the world’s leading indoor and campus-based pedestrian wayfinding solution. Using photo landmark navigation technologies, Eyedog.US offers a human-centered wayfinding approach that promises to reduce stress and anxiety associated with navigating a complex campus. Learn more at

Don’t be Caught Red Handed – 2023 Healthcare Regulatory Hot Topics

By: Christina Olivarria, MSPM, PMP, LBBP, HACP, Director of Business Development and Communications, Yellow Brick Consulting Inc

I think it’s fair to say the lion’s share of us working in healthcare did not get into this field to learn about regulations, compliance, and accreditation. In fact, some of you may even cringe at the thought of developing policies, reviewing scopes of services, or verifying that staff files are up-to-date and inspection ready. Let’s face it, as much as we may dislike the headache they often bring, healthcare regulations are a necessary component to maintaining our healthcare system. As healthcare professionals, we are responsible for keeping abreast of the latest regulatory trends so that we always bring our best, most informed self to whatever setting may need that information.

As a non-clinician, I have challenged myself to become more educated about the various aspects of regulatory compliance. When activating a new healthcare facility, surveys and site inspections are often the final hurdles project teams must overcome before Day 1 Activation. Each year, as part of my regulatory education, I work with our Regulatory Specialist, ask probing questions, attend webinars, and do lots of reading. Below is a summary of prevalent regulatory hot topics across the country.

Behavioral Health Patient Risk Assessments

The CMS Hospital Condition of Participation, “Patient’s Rights” (42 C.F.R. §482.13(c)(2)) establishes the rights of all patients to receive care in a safe setting and is intended to provide protection for a patient’s emotional health and safety as well as his or her physical safety.

The Joint Commission identified patient safety risks as one of the goals listed in the 2023 National Patient Safety Goals. Specifically, reducing the risk of suicide through thorough environmental risk assessments is a top priority of the TJC and CMS, and many healthcare organizations, particularly as Behavioral Health, becomes a more prevalent topic. Evaluating ligature risks within healthcare settings where high-risk patient populations are cared for should be a top priority of healthcare leaders to mitigate the risk of self-harm. Currently, only psychiatric hospitals and hospitals psychiatric units are mandated to be designed to be ligature resistant. Those of us in healthcare understand behavioral health patients are treated in almost every type of healthcare environment, so it is important to be aware of potential risks and have the plan to minimize them.

Some recommendations include:

  • Evaluation of the physical environment through a standardized risk assessment tool
  • Ensure all patients are being screened for suicidal ideation
  • Develop and maintain policies and procedures should a patient be identified at risk for suicide, including continuous monitoring and staff safety
  • Develop and provide training to staff
  • Follow policies and procedures related to discharge counseling and follow-up care

Workplace Violence Prevention

The data paints a bleak picture.

  • Healthcare and Social Services workers are five times more likely to experience workplace violence
  • Workplace violence comprises 73% of all nonfatal workplace injuries
  • 80% of serious violent incidents reported in healthcare settings were caused by interactions with patients
  • The “healthcare and social assistance” sector had 7.8 cases of serious workplace violence per 10,000 full-time employees compared to other large sectors that all had fewer than two cases per 10,000 full-time employees

As a result of this problem riddling our healthcare teams, the Joint Commission issued new and revised workplace violence prevention standards on January 1, 2022. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) plans for a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) review of rulemaking for workplace violence prevention in health care and social assistance to ensure all healthcare providers are compliant.

The Joint Commission’s glossary defines workplace violence as “An act or threat occurring at the workplace that can include any of the following: verbal, nonverbal, written, or physical aggression; threatening, intimidating, harassing, or humiliating words or actions; bullying; sabotage; sexual harassment; physical assaults; or other behaviors of concern involving staff, licensed practitioners, patients, or visitors.” Healthcare leaders are now faced with the arduous task of incorporating these new standards into existing policies and procedures.

The new prevention standards are comprised of the following components:

  • Management of safety and security risks – Conduct an annual analysis of the effectiveness of the workplace prevention program.
  • Collection of information to monitor environmental conditions – Establish a process to monitor, investigate, and report incidents, including but not limited to injuries to patients and staff, occupational illnesses, safety and security risks, hazardous materials and waste spills, and utility system problems/failures
  • Coordination of ongoing staff education and training – Establish training modules and content for various staff types, including at the time of hire and on an annual/as-needed basis. Content should include roles and responsibilities, de-escalation techniques, and reporting methods.
  • Maintenance of a culture of safety and quality – Develop policies and procedures that address workplace violence. Evaluate key performance indicators that can be established to monitor incidents. Ensure support resources are available to staff.

Although this regulatory requirement has left many organizations scrambling, there are several incentives to adopting policies and procedures addressing workplace violence, including staff-burnout prevention, minimizing workers’ compensation claims, and reducing the need to backfill staff who are out due to injury. To access the Joint Commission resource toolkit, click here.

Disaster and Emergency Preparedness

The Emergency Preparedness CoP at §482.15(d)(1) contains requirements for hospitals to train staff and to have policies and procedures aimed at protecting both their workforce and their patients.

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and its impacts still reverberating through the healthcare system, it is unsurprising to see increased scrutiny on emergency preparedness. The Joint Commission has highlighted Emergency Management as key safety topic, focusing on four main areas – preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation.

Preparedness – Conduct a hazard vulnerability analysis utilizing an all-hazards approach, considering internal and external threats to the organization. Develop an Emergency Operations Plan that addresses identified threats. Validate systems required to support critical services and develop plan to maintain in the event of an emergency.

Response – Develop policies and procedures to support an Emergency Action Plan. Conduct staff training to support outlined policies and procedures to ensure teams respond as planned. Ensure communication and roles and responsibilities are outlined.

Recovery –  Address how and when the hospital will return to full functionality after an emergency or disaster. Consider family reunification and patient identification procedures for unidentified adults and unaccompanied children.

Mitigation – Conduct exercises to test emergency response, including fire evacuation drills, active shooter exercises, mass casualty events, and technology ransomware attacks. Evaluate responses and identify areas of opportunity and gaps in planned responses.

Hospitals must ensure that emergency services will be available when the next disaster occurs while prioritizing investments that will build the healthcare delivery system of tomorrow. For more information, please click here for the Joint Commission R3 Report.

End of the COVID-19 National Emergency and Public Health Emergency (PHE)

Throughout the pandemic emergency, declarations allowed extra funding to be utilized to maintain Medicaid coverage for millions of Americans. With this funding being pulled this year, it is unclear how this unwinding will impact the healthcare system and the millions of Americans who may lose access to insurance come May 2023. Emergency declarations enacted during the Covid-19 pandemic will end, which may result in adjusting ratios, retraining staff onboarded during this period, and adjusting billing for services currently covered under the national emergency declarations.

Organizations should conduct an internal analysis of practices and procedures to prepare for this unwinding period to prioritize the next steps. Communication and coordination with community resources are recommended to ensure patients have the most up-to-date information regarding available benefits and resources.

Although not the most exciting of healthcare topics, regulatory and healthcare compliance education should be a goal of every healthcare professional. What I have found most helpful is understanding what I need to know to be successful in my role and also who my subject matter experts are in the event that I need to consult with them on a topic outside my realm of expertise. Plenty of free webinars and articles are available on the various regulatory agency websites. Should you encounter a situation in which you need consultation, reach out to a consultant that specializes in healthcare. Many are happy to point folks in the right direction. Best of luck on your regulatory educational journey, and be sure to keep these hot topics on your radar in 2023.


Engaging Programming, Innovative Products, Keynotes, Industry Leaders, Facility Tours, Emerging Leaders, and Networking Events

Charlotte, NC (June 14, 2023) — Healthcare Facilities Symposium and Expo, one of the country’s largest shows dedicated to healthcare design and facilities, returns for its 36th annual event to the Charlotte Convention Center, September 19-21. This must-attend symposium and expo brings together architects, designers, engineers, contractors and providers to collaborate, share research, hear fresh perspectives and participate in the ever-changing healthcare industry. Attendees will have a chance to sit in on compelling Keynote Presentations, explore 100+ Exhibitors, be inspired by industry leaders at daily Conference Sessions, explore two of Charlotte’s newest Healthcare Facilities, enjoy Networking Events and much more.

“After a hugely successful event in Long Beach, CA, we’re thrilled to bring the 36th annual Healthcare Facilities Symposium and Expo to Charlotte, NC, one of the top three markets in the country for healthcare construction,” said Jenabeth Ferguson, Vice President, Symposium Director. “Each year, we look forward to bringing together healthcare design’s industry leaders for powerful keynotes, informative sessions, the latest product innovations and new this year, we will be welcoming Emerging Leaders.”

Robust Conference

The Symposium features three jam-packed days of educational and insightful sessions, case-studies and keynotes meant to inspire and improve current and future healthcare facilities. The sessions will span multiple topics including Pediatrics, Behavioral Health, and Community Health, among others that are making an impact on the healthcare design industry. This year’s closing keynote titled, “What is This Thing Called Heart and How is it Relevant to Care | Design | Impact?”, features Susan Black, Principal and Director, Perkins Eastman Black Architects Inc. Black will challenge and inspire attendees with provocative questions, probing an examination into: how can our shared professions and related industries be more impactful; how can an investment in heartfelt determination be not only scalable, one project at a time, but be parlayed into a global phenomenon; and how can these disciplines of ours shake the world?

Exhibit Hall

The Exhibit Hall features the most Innovative products and services in the healthcare facilities industry from some of the country’s top manufacturers and providers. Many exhibitors will launch new products at HFSE, getting in front of important decision makers from healthcare facilities, architecture and design firms. Experience the latest furnishings, technology, flooring, modular and healthcare consulting from WIELAND Healthcare, eVideon, Tarkett, Modular Services Company, ECG Management Consultants, a Siemens Healthineers Company and many more. Don’t miss mini sessions on the Exhibit Floor at the Design Solutions Theaters where the design team galleries come alive in these 15 minute presentations. Back by Popular Demand – there will be two design solutions theaters so double the chance to hear about the latest projects in this exciting format.

Symposium Distinction Awards

The annual program recognizes design teams, projects and individuals who have made a profound contribution to the healthcare design industry. The program accepts submissions of all types and sizes of patient care-related facilities. In addition, it recognizes the best and most innovative new products within the healthcare design & construction industry. All entries are due July 28 and submissions can be made here:

Networking Events

Mix and mingle with new and old friends at daily events including the Grand Opening of Exhibit Floor and Symposium Party, the Ice Cream Social, the Happy Hour and many more fun and engaging events.

Emerging Leaders Welcome

The Healthcare Facilities Symposium and Expo’s NEW Symposium Emerging Leaders Scholarship Program in 2023 gives recognition to those individuals with less than 10 years (non-consecutive) of experience in healthcare design and construction including research and/or education. The recognition includes attending the 2023 HFSE in Charlotte, North Carolina September 19-21 and participating in all activities surrounding the event.


  • A Full Access registration to the 2023 Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo (travel expenses are not included)
  • Welcome breakfast for all emerging leaders to meet each other at the beginning of the event
  • Recognition at the Opening Keynote at the 2023 HFSE
  • Recognition on a display board at the 2023 HFSE
  • Invitation to the VIP Reception at the 2023 HFSE with a chance to network with the HFSE Advisory Board
  • Featured in the October 2023 Leaflet issue

For more information and to apply, visit

Facility Tours

The 2023 event will bring back Facility Tours throughout Charlotte, a beloved tradition that is returning after its hiatus since COVID.

The Atrium Health Union West Campus is a greenfield, 37-acre full-service hospital campus in Stallings, North Carolina, just east of downtown Charlotte. Phase one included 160,000 SF hospital providing approximately 40 beds in two care wings, along with a bridge connected 69,000 SF Medical Office Building (MOB) that includes a satellite Levine Cancer Institute care facility. The hospital design adopts Atrium’s systemwide use of same-handed, acuity adaptable patient rooms that are supported by a 16’ wide double-loaded care corridor approach.

Novant Health’s Ballytyne Medical Center is designed to meet today’s community health care demands and tomorrow’s projected growth needs. The 185,000 SF hospital and 52,000 SF MOB were designed together to complement each other in scale, materiality, wayfinding and programming, as well as, to relate to the surrounding upscale Ballantyne area in Charlotte, NC. Planned as 4 stories plus penthouse, the hospital is initially 48 beds and includes horizontal growth zones for the diagnostic and treatment departments like emergency, surgery, and imaging. The attached Medical Office Building (also designed as Type 1A, Institutional Occupancy) is initially 3 stories for outpatient clinics but planned to expand both vertically and horizontally to allow campus growth up to 150 beds with minimal disruption to the operation of the hospital. Opened in June 2023, this campus was designed by HDR Architecture with engineering services provided by consultants. Attendees will be able to tour the newly opened hospital and MOB and better learn about expansion strategies, built-in flexibility, and lessons learned.

Both tours will take place Monday, September 18, 1-5pm.

For more information or to register, please visit


The mission of the Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo is to create a multi-disciplinary environment that inspires you to evoke change and the advancement of a better delivery of healthcare through the physical space. Competitors, clients, and colleagues come together as friends to collaborate, share research, hear fresh perspectives and participate in the ever-changing conversation of your industry.


The Conference Program is here!

By Jenabeth Ferguson

Our 2023 conference program was unveiled earlier this week.  Have you had a chance to look it over yet?  I am really looking forward to this year’s program and hope you take some time to check out the compelling sessions we have put together.

We have folks from Penn Medicine, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Memorial Hermann, Rush University Medical Center, University of California Irvine, Boston Children’s Hospital and Mercy Health coming to share their stories and expertise with us in September.  Some of our “fan favorites” are back like Frank Pitts with architecture+, Lynn Aguilera with Stanford Medicine Children’s Health, Bob Gesing with Trinity:NAC and Victoria Navarro with Milwaukee County Department of Administrative Services.

As you know, this year we are heading to Charlotte, North Carolina which is experiencing a population boom which the major health-care systems are matching by investing more than $1 billion into new hospitals.  We’ll be hearing from some of those providers such as Duke Health, Atrium Health, FirstHealth of the Carolinas and Novant Health.  In addition, we’re also going to hear about international projects with lessons from African Hospitals as well as Cairo and Mexico.

With almost 200 speaker that is thousands upon thousands of years of expertise that you can learn from when you attend our conference program. Speakers who will be in the room with you and you can chat with after the session or on the exhibit floor or before our keynotes.

These are just a few examples of the education you will receive by attending this year’s event.  You can see the entire program at a glance by clicking here.  Keep in mind we have yet to announce our keynotes or facility tours  . . . so stay tuned!

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