Keck Medicine of USC recently joined organizations across the country in celebrating National Nurses Week and National Hospital Week. These annual events serve as an opportunity to pause and honor health care employees for the compassionate, innovative ways they support both the patient experience and the communities they serve.

“These celebrations are a way for us to recognize and thank our workforce for their dedication to our patients and each other,” said Rod Hanners, interim CEO for Keck Medicine. “All of our staff and faculty, whether in a patient-facing role or support role, make up our greatest resource, our people. We are proud to work alongside such dedicated and caring individuals as we continue to be a leader in world-class, compassionate care.”

National Nurses Week occurs annually beginning May 6 and ending on May 12, Florence Nightingale’s birthday. As a British social reformer, Nightingale implemented the highest standards for the nursing profession and is considered the founder of modern nursing. This year featured a variety of celebratory programs across the health system, including raffles as well as catered breakfasts and lunches.

“When we are facing a medical challenge, there is no presence more comforting than a nurse helping to guide us through feelings of uncertainty and fear,” said Annette Sy, DNP, RN, NE-BC, chief nursing officer for Keck Medical Center of USC. “Day in and day out, our nurses are committed to excellence and providing our patients with care in a safe environment. Their fearlessness in the face of any obstacle has made our enterprise a success.”

In honor of National Nurses Week, Keck Medical Center and USC Care and Ambulatory Services executives gathered together on May 6 to honor the organization’s nursing staff at its annual Nurses Week Recognition and Scholarship Awards ceremony. The event took place virtually, and over the course of an hour, nurse, physician and executive leadership recognized nursing staff for their contributions to the enterprise.

“We are honored to stand alongside such talented individuals who respond with the greatest level of nursing professionalism to the lives entrusted to us,” said Cindy Naveira, MSN, RN, ACNP-BC, chief nursing officer for USC Care Medical Group. “The support our nurses offer to one another and to our medical teams is unshakeable. We know the lives of our patients will be influenced by their heroic efforts for years to come.”

The awards began two decades ago, with the aim of celebrating care partners and nurse humanitarians. Besides recognizing individuals in a variety of categories including “Nurse Rookie of the Year” and “Nurse of the Year,” the ceremony is also a time when select nurses are awarded scholarships to support their present and future educational endeavors.

Nurses were nominated by their peers and nursing leadership for qualities such as collaboration, communication, knowledge of protocols and continued compassion for their patients. The award winners included:


2021 Nurse Tuition Scholarship Winners: 

  • Roel Estrada, Nurse Manager
  • Mindy Chin, RN
  • Cindy Ordonez, RN
  • Ja Young Kim, Assistant Nurse Manager
  • Joanna Chen, RN
  • Vince Wong, RN
  • Richard Sy, RN
  • Kathryn Wathen, RN
  • Jiae Kwak, RN
  • Alejandra Cuevas, RN
  • Robin Jarvis, RN, Nurse Educator
  • Nicole Gilmore, Assistant Nurse Manager


2021 Nurse Week Recognition Award-Winners:

  • Physician Partner of the Year – Tarina Kang, MD
  • Care Partner of the Year – Nerissa Lazara, Patient Care Assistant
  • Nurse Rookie of the Year – Nare Barseghian, RN
  • Nurse Preceptor of the Year – Shayne Padgett, RN
  • Nurse Humanitarian of the Year – Linda Dankwa, RN
  • Nurse Advocate of the Year – Christen Straw, Nursing Director
  • Advanced Practice Nurse of the Year – Kimberly Sanchez, Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Nurse Leader of the Year – Mary Reed, Director of Clinical Education and Practice Integration
  • Nurse of the Year – Felisabel Padua, RN

Additionally, the health system celebrated National Hospital Week from May 9 through May 15.

The celebration traces its origins back to 1921, where it was first known as National Hospital Day. The intent behind the holiday was to strengthen trust in hospitals in the wake of the Spanish flu outbreak in 1918.

Then, in 1953, National Hospital Day became National Hospital Week, with the month of May chosen to coincide with Florence Nightingale’s birthday on May 12. Today, it is the nation’s largest health care event, and affords medical enterprises an opportunity to honor their employees.

“Like the most intricate systems, to successfully service our patients and their families, every component of the visit must be operating at the highest level,” said Armand Dorian, MD, MMM, FACEP, interim CEO and chief medical officer for USC Verdugo Hills Hospital. “Time and again, our leadership team watches this incredible process transpire. When confronted with an unfamiliar or difficult problem, our staff does not collapse in the face of such adversity. For that, we are forever grateful and honored to celebrate them during this week.”

During this celebratory week, Keck Medicine employees participated in a virtual scavenger hunt, photo raffle contest, and were treated to pop-up food events amongst other activities.

To further celebrate this occasion, Keck Medicine administrative and clinical leadership produced a video message expressing their gratitude for the health system’s employees.

— Matthew Vasiliauskas