A veteran Keck Medical Center of USC staff member has been selected as this year’s recipient of a prestigious award honoring an unwavering commitment to compassion and personalized health care.

Diane Lapa, director of patient relations in the Patient and Family Experience Office of Keck Medical Center of USC, received the The Etz Chaim — Tree of Life Award, which honors physicians, nurses and staff who demonstrate extraordinarily compassionate patient care during a ceremony in June at Keck Medical Center.

Rod Hanners, CEO of Keck Medical Center of USC and COO, Keck Medicine of USC, said Lapa strives to improve the health and lives of patients through compassionate care that demonstrates integrity, excellence, respect and empathy.

“As we all know, Diane possess all of these characteristics and much more,” Hanners said. “She is an ideal candidate for this award.”

The Etz Chaim — Tree of Life Award of Compassionate Care was established in 2014 by Etan Chaim Milgrom, MD, USC clinical professor of family medicine and pediatrics. The award is presented annually to a Keck Medicine faculty or staff member who models and provides compassionate care, serves as a mentor to those pursuing careers in community health and fosters a culture that celebrates learning and development of a community of compassionate health care providers.

Lapa, who has worked for USC for 23 years, said she was grateful for the opportunity to work alongside her colleagues at Keck Medical Center while helping patients and their loved ones.

“My journey has been inspired by the colleagues I work with everyday,” Lapa said. “There are so many others deserving of this award. And I am so grateful that I get to go home each day and say “I made a difference.’”

Milgrom, a USC alumnus, created the award to give compassionate care a name, a face and the recognition it deserves. Lapa embodies the spirit of the Tree of Life Award and exemplifies caring and compassionate patient care, Milgrom said.

“Diane is such a worthy recipient,” Milgrom said during the Tree of Life Award ceremony. “She is a mentor to her colleagues, promotes altruism and fosters compassion in the workplace. Diane possesses all these characteristics and so much more.”

— Douglas Morino