Sandy Pfirrman, Keck Medical Center of USC’s inaugural Employee of the Year, arrives to work each day 45 minutes early — and has done so for nearly six years.

This gives her time to gather herself, have a cup of coffee and relax before the day begins.

Sandra Pfirrman has been named Employee of the Year.

Sandra Pfirrman has been named Employee of the Year.

“I tell myself, ‘Today is going to be a great day, no matter what,’” the mother of three daughters said. “I’m going to put everything aside for the patients and their families.”

Pfirrman was selected as the 2014 Employee of the Year from among the year’s monthly winners. The honor includes a $2,500 payment.

The Employee of the Month program rewards excellence and goes to employees who demonstrate Keck Service Culture standards. Staff members are nominated by their peers.

Pfirrman works in concierge services, checking in surgery patients at Keck Hospital. She often assists patients’ family members and other loved ones as they wait in the Gold Lobby — everything from getting someone a cup of coffee, connecting patients and their families with doctors and nurses, or simply offering a warm smile. She recently bought lunch for a mother and her three children waiting for a patient undergoing heart surgery.

“I don’t want them to feel like they are walking into a hospital,” Pfirrman said. “I want to make the best possible experience for them.”

She added: “I love what I do. Being here has been a gift.”

Patient advocate Laura Molyneaux was among several colleagues who originally nominated Pfirrman for Employee of the Month. She described Pfirrman as a dedicated staff member who is consistently attentive, compassionate and kind to colleagues, patients and their families.

“She always has a smile on her face,” Molyneaux said. “She cares so much.”

Patients and families have sent in many letters commending Pfirrman’s work.

“They say she’s an angel,” Molyneaux said.

— Douglas Morino