September 21-23, 2021
Austin Convention Center | Austin, TX

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The Leaflet Article


Top 5 Highlights from this Year’s Symposium

Jenabeth Ferguson, Vice President, Symposium Director

Top 5 Highlights from this Year’s Symposium

For the past 3 years I have used this space in October to share my top moments from the Symposium. However this year I had something else on my mind in October as I discussed the idea of service to others and I encourage you to read that column if you did not see it. Before we move onto 2018 I am going to indulge in looking back and share my top 5 favorite things from this year’s event.

1. Planning for Disaster! In the crazy days leading up to our 2017 event, Hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma were impacting much of the US, including our host state of Texas. We also ended up with a session opening at the last minute. I went to our advisory board and said I need a session and what about tackling the subject of disaster preparedness with all that was going on right now. Well boy did they run with that idea and it ended up being one of the best sessions. The panel included the Associate Commissioner for Regional and Local Health Operations from the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Director of Clinical Planning and Design from Houston Methodist. Obviously the topic was timely but also the energy it took to pull together a session at the last minute was terrific and provided a great result.

2. Tribute to Wayne Ruga! On Tuesday evening Humanscale hosted the Symposium Jamboree to celebrate our 30th year. It was a great opportunity for networking and relationship building outside of the convention center. The highlight of the evening was Emmy award-winning composer & producer Gary Malkin performing a song he wrote to honor our founder Dr. Wayne Ruga. It was an emotional tribute to the man who founded the Symposium 30 years ago and brought so many of us together.

3. Design Institute for Health! On Sunday the event kicked off with our facility tours and I took a group to the Design Institute where executive director Stacey Chang addressed the group. As I listened to Stacey tell us about this unorthodox idea that is growing in Central Texas I knew his keynote on Tuesday morning was going to be a home run. He did not disappoint and I have heard from more attendees wanting more from Stacey. The Design Institute is challenging age-old system issues in healthcare and coming at it from a very different way with design leading the discussion. Since we were in Austin they have opened their clinical space. I can’t wait to go back next year and hear what they have learned.

4. NOAH! We partnered with the National Organization of Arts in Health this year as they brought their inaugural conference to our event. The artists brought a vitality and energy to the event that was appreciated by everyone. We had musical entertainment before our keynotes and art supplies to add some personality to everyone’s badges. The more important part of our partnership was the opportunity for our attendees to attend the NOAH sessions and learn about the role arts play in the healing environment.

5. Visual Translator! For the second year in a row we had a visual translator onsite observing sessions, discussions, interactions and all events. His observations provided insight into what topics are on everyone’s mind. The final product also gives us a keepsake to remind us what we experienced at this year’s Symposium. And the joy in watching him work and seeing the canvas fill up as the event continued was a great treat for everyone. A print of the final image now hangs in my office as a reminder of our time in Austin celebrating our 30th year.

Those are my top 5 favorite moments from this year. As always, work began on next year’s event immediately. We are headed back to Austin, Texas for one more year! I am thrilled to be returning to this dynamic, emerging destination with all of you. Mark your calendars for October 8-10, 2018 and be on the lookout for more information in the coming months.

Happy Holidays & a Healthy New Year!

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

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