When the weather grows cooler and as the major fall holidays come and go, many of us grow a bit introspective at the passing of yet another year. The idiom that time passes more quickly as the years tick by feels more and more true. And, in a decade of “doing more with less,” the workday has become increasingly compacted—we are inundated with e-mail, phone messages, deadlines, business plans, and personnel issues. Work can easily become an overwhelming experience that drains more than empowers.

Yet, for each of us, there was a time when we began working in healthcare for a reason. For you, maybe it was a personal experience you had with the healthcare system, or that of a loved one; maybe it was from a personal conviction that you could make a difference in the world by doing this work. Something led you to this, and it's a good bet it was more than just happenstance.

As time passes, though, is it possible that we start to lose the ability to see the forest because of the trees? Can we get so caught up in asking the questions what and how that we forget to ask the fundamental question: why?

Within the answer to that question often lies the heart and spirit of an organization—a spirit that reflects the organization's culture, respect for its patients and their families, and the value it places on its caregivers. Spirit is at the very heart of healthcare. If we forget to meaningfully address the question why, eventually our work—even in healthcare—will begin to lack meaning and lose spirit.

That's why The Center for Health Design and Medquest Communications continue to join forces to create ways for you to replenish your spirit, as well as keep up with the latest evidence-based design research, best-practice models, and product developments. First, with HealthCare Design magazine and now with its companion conference HEALTHCARE DESIGN .03, The Center and Medquest provide you with outlets for your insights and material to help you stay energized by your work. You can also find camaraderie in the community of healthcare executives, design professionals, and product manufacturers. We do this, in both our editorial content and educational presentations, by addressing not only the latest trends and case studies in healthcare design, but also by looking at the why behind them.

Second, The Center continues to invest the largest part of its resources in conducting evidence-based design research and building a solid database of the findings to help you make the best possible decisions in the design and operation of future healthcare facilities.

It's easy in a hectic life to lose sight of the forest for the trees, but we hope you'll take the time out for some “food for the spirit” and spend some time with us—at our conference December 7-10 in Miami, through the articles in our quarterly magazine, or both. If the “live action” of a conference appeals to you but you can't make Miami in December, mark your calendars now for HEALTHCARE DESIGN .04, November 7-10, 2004, in Houston.

Meanwhile, we always welcome your feedback and ideas. Please feel free to contact The Center at admin@healthdesign.org. HD

The Center for Health Design is located in Pleasant Hill, California.

To comment on this article, please send e-mail to levin1103@hcdmagazine.com.

Healthcare Design 2003 November;3(4):6