SEPTEMBER 19-21, 2023
Charlotte Convention Center - Charlotte, NC

Thank You!

Last month we gathered in Long Beach for the 35th Annual Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo and what a tremendous success it was – with incredible buzz and high energy, compelling keynotes, conference sessions, networking and much more! I kicked off our event sharing some of my personal history with the Symposium and also how it has impacted my family. I thought I would use this space this month to share what I told the audience, with our entire Symposium community as I know not all of you were there in Long Beach.

1998 was the first time I became aware of the Symposium on Healthcare Design (our former name), and I was early in my career producing events, so I wasn’t always focused on the purpose of each event, but the Symposium was different. As the daughter of an engineer, I certainly could appreciate the impact of design on the experiences in spaces.

One year later the Symposium was to take place in Boca Raton, Florida in September but Hurricane Floyd had other ideas. We rescheduled the event three months later in Orlando and for the very first time I learned how to cancel and relaunch an event; skills I didn’t really need again until 2020. Back in 1999, I went to the Symposium and was asked to lead one of the tours and we went to Celebration Health.  Like all of you know, it’s great to talk about healing environments and how design impacts them but there is nothing like seeing it in person. Meanwhile, back home my family was moving my grandmother with Alzheimer’s to a nursing home so when I got home and first visited her, I saw the good and bad about where she was now living. My family thought I was crazy when I said the nursing station was in the wrong location.

Jumping ahead to this past winter, I was once again faced with a family member with Alzheimer’s needing to be placed in a facility.  This time it was my mother and I have been her primary caregiver so the responsibility of picking the right place was on my shoulders. I armed myself with everything I knew about Alzheimer’s and almost 20 years of my career solely focused on the Symposium.  All the hospitals and healthcare facilities across this country I have spent time in, all the sessions I have programmed, all the conversations I have had with all of you.  I felt bad for the folks I was meeting with because they were fully prepared to talk to a daughter looking for some place for their mother, which was a situation they had seen far too many times, but a daughter whose work focuses on healthcare design that was a whole other level of critique.

I visited five facilities and narrowed it down the best two. I will just tell you about one that didn’t make the cut. I met with the woman for over an hour and was really impressed with their programs and philosophies.  We walk into the memory care area, and I notice the residents’ apartments are all down a hallway with zero line of sight to the common areas.  As we walk down this endless hall where all the doors look the same there are handwritten signs on the walls telling ‘John Smith your room is this way’.  And I thought bad design negates all the best intentions in the world. In the end we were fortunate enough to select a facility super close to my home with some very good design aspects.

What I wanted to say to all of you is thank you for the pushing and questioning and changing you’ve done in the past 20 years to make the place I put my Mom so much better than the one my grandmother was in, which was really my Mom’s biggest fear.

Be well,
Jenabeth

Jenabeth Ferguson
Vice President, Symposium Director
Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo

Networking in Long Beach!

By Jenabeth Ferguson

In just over a month, we will all be gathered at the 35th Annual Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo. We have quite a lineup this year over two and a half days, including 3 keynotes and over 50 sessions featuring a roster of over 160 industry leaders speaking, an exhibit hall packed with companies eager to show you their latest products and services and so much more. You can see all our offerings and how much we’ve jammed into the schedule here.

I want you to register for the event if you have not already and come to Long Beach for all the education and sourcing of innovative products and solutions in our exhibit hall. I also know how important networking with your industry peers is, and how much more important in-person networking has become in the past several years. I thought I would share our top three networking events that you need to make sure are on your schedule when at the Symposium in Long Beach this September.

  1. Opening Reception and Symposium Party! Talk about an event highlight. It is your first chance to see all the exhibitors and talk with them about their latest products and services. We’ll be serving drinks and appetizers so you can catch up with your fellow attendees. The Symposium Party also features our annual raffle, where you can buy tickets to win prizes ranging from Apple products to Kate Spade bags to Amazon gift cards and so much more. The best part is 100% of the proceeds from the raffle go to benefit a charitable organization, and this year we’ll be supporting Algalita. Their mission is not to pick trash out of the sea. It’s to fundamentally shift our way of thinking on land. They empower young people to think critically, demand action and be agents for change. When we educate, the next generation responds with solutions. They get behind a cause that has a wide-ranging impact, and they support it.
  2. Ice Cream Social! This is your last chance to visit with exhibitors and thank them for their support of the Symposium. And to make it a little more tempting we provide ice cream as a mid-afternoon snack for all in attendance. Feel like a kid again, grab a sweet treat and make one last circle around the exhibit floor.
  3. Happy Hour! Now this is the time to get away from the convention center, maybe change into a little more Southern California attire and check out a local watering hole. This year we’ll be heading to the Portuguese Bend Distilling which is within walking distance from the hotels and a gastropub celebrating all things boozy, with elaborate taproom & New American eats.

Enjoy the last few weeks of summer and I will see you in Long Beach very soon!

Be well,
Jenabeth

Jenabeth Ferguson
Vice President, Symposium Director

Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo

PS. Have a question or comment, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]

Top 3 Things

By Jenabeth Ferguson

We are just under 3 months from our 2022 event and there is a lot going on as we’re continuing to make announcements of new developments. I thought I’d take advantage of this space to let you know my top 3 things I am looking forward to as part of this year’s event.

#3 Healthcare Providers Only Roundtable! For the fourth year, we are offering the Healthcare Providers Only Roundtable. The purpose of this roundtable is to create an environment for individuals employed by a hospital or healthcare system who oversee capital construction projects to gather and openly exchange ideas. Last year, I stuck my head into the room during the roundtable discussion and it was really rewarding to see owners together talking to their peers from all across the country and relating to each other’s challenges. It’s an unique opportunity we provide and I’m very thankful we are able to do so each year.

#2 Community Health! We’re offering four sessions this year on Wednesday that deal with health in communities that we don’t always talk about. There will be two sessions discussing communities helping the homeless transition out of homelessness. It’s a conversation we started last year in Austin, and I’m thrilled we’re continuing. The other two sessions talk about two underserved communities: indigenous people in Vancouver, British Columbia and Alaskan Natives. These are sessions close to my heart as my father was Canadian and my brother in law (and both my nieces) are Alaskan Native.

#1 Long Beach! It’s been a long time since the Symposium was in California and we’re very excited to be coming back. 35 years ago, the Symposium was held for the first time in Southern California so it’s appropriate that we’re coming back to this rich area of the country for both healthcare and design. Long Beach is easily accessible as there are three airports all within 30 miles and it has a great public transportation system. And of course the beach is right there so be sure to take some time outside of the event schedule and visit the area.

Enjoy your summer and make plans to join us in Long Beach, California this fall!

Be well,
Jenabeth

Jenabeth Ferguson
Vice President, Symposium Director
Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo

PS. Have a question or comment, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]

Reunited and it feels so good

In January of 2020, the advisory board met like it has at the beginning of the year in Chicago for the past 15 years. The subject of COVID came up a couple of times and there was a news alert that the first case had been verified in Chicago at the time we were there. We all left, said we’ll see you in May in Boston as that is our second board meeting each year, and never imagined we’d go so long between seeing each other in person. As a group we meet twice a year but outside of those settings between the annual HFSE event and other industry events groups of us can be together as many as 5 or 6 times a year. This past December a lot of us were in Austin but not everyone as some folk’s organizations were still not traveling or people had personal situations where they were still not being around large groups.

The Friday before last, over two years later, twenty-eight of us once again gathered in Chicago. The energy was palpable. The friendly banter and teasing felt so familiar. The enthusiasm and passion for our industry and what comes next after all we’ve been through was inspiring. That may have been the most amazing part of it all. We all know what healthcare organizations and the partners that support them have been through. Nobody has been untouched or unchanged. Everyone talked about right now facing staffing and supply shortages and figuring out how to still provide healthcare. And yet there was optimism in the room. There was hope and determination to continue to figure out how to fix some of our most pressing issues from climate change to mental health to reaching underserved communities. Each person contributing in their own way. Intelligent discussions happening and you could see what one person said would spur another to scribble something down or type up a note which often was an email or text to me with an expanded thought on something we’d discussed.

Let me go back for a second to the friendly banter and teasing that was the true delight of the day. These people who enjoy each other’s company coming together and catching up after such a long hiatus. Hearing stories of kids that it seems just yesterday were learning to walk now learning to drive; announcements of new grandchildren, engagements, and graduations; funny anecdotes of what we all learned during the pandemic and so much more. As professionally accomplished as our board is and as varied the backgrounds, what always strikes me about the group is how much everyone enjoys each other’s company and comradery.

It was a special day. And it gave us a lot of great ideas for this September’s event in Long Beach. Stay tuned next week as we’ll be announcing our conference program.

Be well,
Jenabeth

Jenabeth Ferguson
Vice President, Symposium Director

Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo

PS. Have a question or comment, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]

Happy Reading

By Jenabeth Ferguson

Friday is our call for speaker’s deadline. This is the time of year when folks from all over, representing many different interests in our industry, submit a proposal for a chance to be part of the conference program. Hundreds will try for a speaking slot but we don’t have room for them all, so hard decisions will be made. This also happens to be my most favourite part of planning the Symposium each year.

The process is a cumbersome one and requires a lot of effort from members of our advisory board and me. A committee of anywhere from 10 to 15 board members read all the submissions. And then they begin to rate them on content as a stand-alone, then compared to other submissions on the same topic, and sometimes up against other submissions from the same firm. The rating systems are not all the same; some score them from 1 to 5, others categorize them as yes/no/maybe and others give feedback in narrative form. They have a month to do this because it takes a long time to read them and truly digest all the effort everyone has put into submitting. At the same time, I am reading them too. At first, I read them without making any comments or judgement, absorbing and taking it all in. Then, I start to make comments in the margins. And yes, this is the one time of year I am old school and I print out all the proposals and carry them around like a teacher grading papers. Finally, I will start to make tallies of similar subjects, multiple submissions from same person and/or firm, types of organizations and their geographic location. This is also when I see holes in terms of topics and/or projects we wanted to cover and I go back out to experts and get them involved to fill in the gaps.

The fun really begins when I receive all the committee members’ comments. It’s just like every judging contest you see on TV nowadays in that there are very few instances where everyone agrees! Sometimes I find it comical and other times it makes the final decision so much harder. You also have to take their biases into account, for example, are they an architect and the topic is too technical, but an engineer would find value. Or are they farther along in their career and find it too basic, but an emerging leader would be interested. It’s my job to remember all of that. It’s also my job to keep track of topics, health systems of various sizes, geographic location of presenting organizations as well as making sure the same organization is not presenting on more than one panel and that every case study must have a representative from the healthcare provider co-presenting.

I do all of that over the course of a several of days with piles of proposals spread out on every surface, post it notes to help keep me organized and legal pads of lists. It’s messy and creative and hard and so much fun! Committee members get emails, texts and phone calls soliciting their counsel or clarification on what they thought. I sweat each decision. I have a series of checks and re-checks to ensure all our priorities for that year are met. And at the end we have what is hopefully a well-rounded conference program that has something for everyone and will educate and inspire our attendees.

In 2020, we did this exercise in the very early days of the pandemic when we were all in lockdown. Frankly, as I went through the process, it was not very far from my mind that it may very well be an exercise in futility which of course it was, as we never held an event that year. The program was technically put together, we’d accepted the final presentations and then we kept putting off posting it through the month of May until we officially cancelled our 2020 event. Last year again I went through the exercise and while I was hopeful, we’d have an event there was still a feeling of uncertainty. In the end that program was pushed from September to December and looked a lot different by the time we got to Austin, but a good number of sessions carried all the way through.

I am about to begin my annual ritual of reading proposals and carrying those piles with me for the next month. Going through them any chance I get, and I cannot wait! For the first time in 3 years, I will get to do this with the joy I have always felt reading everyone’s ideas and starting to think about how the pieces fit together and talking to board members to hear their views and taking all the important factors into consideration to come up with the best program we can for this September in Long Beach.

If I don’t respond to email as quickly as usual in the next month or answer my phone as fast, know that I’m somewhere in a corner with a highlighter reading speaking proposals and so happy.

Be well,
Jenabeth

Jenabeth Ferguson
Vice President, Symposium Director

Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo

PS. Have a question or comment, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]

We’re Back!

By Jenabeth Ferguson

Two weeks ago, I stood on the stage in Austin and addressed the Symposium community in person for the first time in over two years. It was pretty amazing to look out at all those people who had trusted us enough to come back out and take part in in-person events once again.

There were so many highlights! Watching friends and colleagues who had not seen each other for some time come together again. Listening to speakers share lessons learned to folks sitting in the room. Seeing exhibitors show their products to people with the ability to touch and feel. Hearing Bruce Komiske talk about his experiences building hospitals through philanthropy. Feeling the buzz of people networking at the Happy Hour.

My favorite might have been our opening keynote, Alan Graham the Founder and CEO of Mobile Loaves & Fishes (MLF). Alan is the visionary behind MLF’s Community First! Village — a 27-acre master planned development that provides affordable, permanent housing and a supporting community to the chronically homeless in Central Texas. It was pretty remarkable to hear but even more awe inspiring to see in person. On Wednesday afternoon, when the event had ended, two of our board members and I went out to Community First and toured the village.

It was one of the quietest, cleanest, most beautiful neighborhoods I have ever seen. It’s a village of tiny homes mostly with community kitchens, gardens, a library, a health clinic, art studios, marketplace, chapel, store, auto shop and outdoor theatre. The neighbors all have the opportunity to earn a dignified income at all those places. It is a remarkable place. I know we were not the only ones from the Symposium who took time to go out and take advantage of a tour. My wish is for all those who heard Alan and especially those who toured are inspired and motivated to create similar neighborhoods across America.

Happy Holidays and a Healthy New Year to you and yours!

Be well,
Jenabeth

Jenabeth Ferguson
Vice President, Symposium Director
Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo

PS. We’re heading to Long Beach, California in 2022 – September 27-29. Save the date!

Back to In Person Events

By Jenabeth Ferguson

Two weeks ago, Ann and I attended an event at the Boston Convention & Exposition Center. It was the first time in almost two years I stepped foot on an exhibition floor and for someone who has been in the conference and tradeshow industry for almost 25 years, it was by far the longest I had gone not being in that setting. A lot of things looked far different from the last time I’d been at an event.

Part of the pre-registration process included showing proof of COVID vaccination or a negative test within 72 hours of attending. Masks were required per the city of Boston. There were a lot more hand sanitizer stations everywhere. You could choose your badge holder by color to indicate your comfort level of contact with other attendees. The seats in session rooms were spaced apart. There were one-way signs for the aisles in the exhibit hall. All those things were new and different due to COVID but what wasn’t different was the networking and engagement of those in attendance.

People were inspired by the keynotes. Speakers were sharing their expertise and lessons learned in the conference sessions. Exhibitors were demonstrating their latest products and services. And perhaps most importantly, old friends and colleagues got to see each other in person and not through a screen.

It was a good thing for me to see as we get closer and closer to bringing the Symposium community back together this December. We will be having a lot of the same precautions in Austin which you can read about here. I know some of you may still not be comfortable or able to join us and that is certainly understandable. And others I keep hearing from quite literally cannot wait to walk back into the Austin Convention Center and see so many of your friends and colleagues from all across the country together again.

If you are planning to be in Austin this December or if you are still considering registering and have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me.

Be well,
Jenabeth

Jenabeth Ferguson
Vice President, Symposium Director

Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo

On the Rollercoaster Again

By Jenabeth Ferguson

Last week I spent most days at the beach with family we haven’t seen for any real extended visits in over eighteen months. I spent my nights at baseball games with friends cheering on our team. It was long days of up and out of the house early, car packed with change of clothes and snacks, getting home late pouring yourself into bed exhausted, suntanned, and elated. It felt normal, very much like my pre COVID life where the pace is hectic and every minute chocked full.

All the while I was getting messages from board members, speakers and other industry contacts about full ICUs, offices reverting to masks required and no external meetings and travel restrictions being reinstated. Many of you are managing your facilities during this continued public health crisis or helping your clients do the same. I hear the frustration in a lot of your voices and emails. I want to say thank you to all of you who continue to support those healthcare workers on the front lines.

The good news is I am also hearing from a lot of experts that in December things will be better, which is when we look forward to welcoming the Symposium back together again. In September, we will release more definitive information on our health and safety plansfor this year’s Symposium. If you have any questions in the meantime, please feel free to reach out to me.

Be well,
Jenabeth

Jenabeth Ferguson
Vice President, Symposium Director

Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo

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