Jenabeth M Ferguson
Vice President, Symposium Director
JD Events

Jenabeth has a long history with the Symposium. From 1998 - 2002 she served as the registration and customer service manager. In 2005 Jenabeth joined JD Events to head up the Symposium.

Jenabeth is Vice President, Symposium Director for the Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo with JD Events. In her role she provides strategic direction on the formulation and execution of the event. In addition she is fully responsible for directing the educational program including the recruitment of all speakers. The extensive industry Advisory Board for the Symposium has grown under Jenabeth’s tenure to include leaders from prestigious design firms as well as some of the largest health systems in the country. She is responsible for the direction and leadership of the board including chairing the annual meeting. Since 2012 she has served as Master of Ceremonies at the event each fall. Jenabeth formed the annual raffle at the Symposium with 100% of the proceeds being donated to several charitable organizations over the years such as the Rick Hansen Foundation and Shriners Children Hospital.

With 200 Speakers Healthcare Facilities Symposium Attracts Diverse Audience in Austin
Mukesh Buch
September 10, 2017
Now, we have architects, interior designers, contractors, engineers and hospital representatives attending the event.

What is the history of the event and where is it going to be held this year?

The Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo was established in 1987 by Wayne Ruga. At the time, he had the idea that the design of the physical environment of healthcare facilities could help promote healing and well-being, not only for patients, but also for the staff and their families.

Originally, the symposium was just a meeting of architects, but it has evolved in the last 30 years in many ways. The world of healthcare space design and its impact on the delivery of healthcare has become a much more accepted concept in the healthcare industry.

Now, we have architects, interior designers, contractors, engineers and hospital representatives attending the event. Appealing to such a diverse audience gives us an advantage in drawing attendees, but the flip side is that it makes the event’s programing and exhibitor acquisition more difficult.

This year’s event will be held between September 18th and September 20th at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas.

Do you have partners or sponsors for the event?

We have associations with the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), chapters of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and the Facility Guidelines Institute (FGI). We also have partnerships with a number of trade magazines including: Medical Construction & Design, Engineering Systems, The Architects Newspaper, and Healthcare Construction & Operations News.

This year we have partnered with the National Organization for Arts in Health (NOAH) and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), which again reflects our multi-disciplinary focus.

Who runs this event? What changes have you done to the event?

JD Events, the event’s organizer, bought the Symposium in 2005. During the last 12 years, we have made a number of changes. The first thing we did was to change the name from the Symposium on Healthcare Design to the Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo. That change reflected our effort to reach out to more healthcare providers, hospital facility management departments, and related suppliers.

We also assembled an advisory board for the event with members drawn from the architecture, engineering, and designer communities. Members come from independent firms like Stantec and HKS, or represent major health systems like Northwestern. They help us select programs for the event and review the presentations.

What are some of highlights for this year’s event?

One of the big things this year is our selection of a venue in Texas for the first time. Texas is experiencing a large healthcare construction boom with a pipeline of projects worth about $15 billion. That puts the event in the center of the action for which companies from around the country want to participate. That probably helps explain the record number of registrations and exhibitor sales we are experiencing this year.

As part of the event, we are offering a tour of a children’s hospital, which is one of the first LEED Platinum hospitals in the country. We are also offering a tour of the Design Institute for Health, a collaboration between Dell Medical School and the College of Fine Arts at The University of Texas at Austin. The tours will give participants a first-hand look at how art and design can collaborate in the delivery of healthcare.

Who are your attendees?

About 35% of our attendance represent architectural firms, 25% represent healthcare facilities, and about 10% each represent contractor and engineering firms, with the balance coming from interior designer firms and or government agencies. Because our audience have diverse areas of expertise, we must make sure that our program and sessions are wide-ranging enough to appeal to each group.

What was the attendance last year?

Our attendance has fluctuated between 1,000 and 2,000 and right now it looks like we are tracking to the high side of that range.

What are some of the interesting areas that will be covered?

There is a lot of interest in changing technology because of its impact on the way healthcare is being delivered and the way facilities must be designed to accommodate the change. It is not just the engineers and contractors that are interested, but everyone in the healthcare community has an interest in our technology sessions.

Also, this year, we have two sessions that are focused on the cultural aspects of healthcare and how diverse cultures care for their populations. One session looks at the Navajo Indians and another at a Hawaiian Hospital to see what lessons might be learned by understanding the difference in approaches to providing healthcare services.

Do you want to highlight any new tracks for prospective attendees?

Due to the diversity of our attendance, we no longer organize the event around specific tracts; instead, our sessions follow a couple of themes. Because of our partnership with NOAH, one of our themes this year is Arts in Health.

Another area we are focused on this year is cancer facilities, because there are a large number of facilities that are being planned right now around the country. We also are highlighting emergency departments and have scheduled double workshop secessions that will present four different case studies.

One other area we are highlighting is the introduction of retail partners in hospital facilities. If you visit many hospitals you will find that there is a CVS pharmacy, large gift store, and modern snack bar in the lobby.

Texas is experiencing a large healthcare construction boom with a pipeline of projects worth about $15 billion. That puts the event in the center of the action for which companies from around the country want to participate.

How many exhibitors do you expect this year?

We expect to have over 100 exhibitors this year. In addition, we have a number of long-time partners and sponsors like ASSA ABLOY, the entrance system specialty company. Our platinum sponsors have been really good over the years and helped bring different activities to the show. Humanscale, the seating company, has sponsored a networking party at our conference each of the last five years.

We have many interesting exhibitors that reflect the diversity of interests among our attendees. One that just came on the other day is Caregiver Bed. They have designed a Murphy bed for hospital rooms for the caregiver who is staying in the room with the patient. It allows a person to be comfortable without being crunched up on a chair.

Among our other exhibitors are major contractors like McCarthy Building Companies, DPR Construction, Walsh Group, HKS, Stantec, HOK, and HDR. We also will have PDi Communication Systems as an exhibitor. PDi televisions provide entertainment, education, and connectivity to hundreds of thousands of patients every day.

Is there a specific theme for the keynote speakers this year?

Our opening keynote speaker is Marika Shioiri-Clark. An architect by training, she is the principal of SOSHL Studio, which is a firm dedicated to creating social impact through design. Marika participated in designing a hospital in Rwanda with an organization called Partners in Health.

Stacey Chang, the Executive Director of the Design Institute for Health, is another one of our keynote speakers. He will give us an overview of the institute and its direction. We are excited about having both of these young speakers and hearing some fresh ideas.

We also have a third keynote by March Sauve who is at Gresham Smith & Partners. He has spoken at our event many times before and does a multimedia presentation on the evolution of healthcare and where it is headed. He is always thought provoking and does an awful lot of research with his team in order to do this presentation.

How many speakers do you have lined up for the event?

The speaker’s list includes 200 names and reflects the multi-disciplinary nature of the event. If you are an architecture or engineering firm and are presenting a case study about a specific project, there will be a large audience from various hospital disciplines who want to hear what you have to say. Normally, we have panels of three or four speakers who are focused on a related project or area. The best panels are the ones that consist of diverse groups – maybe an architect, engineer, contractor, and hospital administrator - that each have a distinct perspective and area of expertise.

We have eight panels at a time this year, 28 on Monday and Tuesday and then 12 on Wednesday.

Are there any developing trends you see in the industry?

One of the primary trends in the healthcare industry that has been developing over the past several years is consolidation. We are seeing hospitals merging into networks and other medical services consolidating to take advantage of scale and efficiency.

Technology is also changing rapidly in ways to empower both patients and doctors who can increasingly monitor patients remotely. Patients are now using e-mail to communicate with their doctor without the need for an office visit.

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