On the afternoon of Aug. 19, Broad Lawn, located in the center of USC’s Health Sciences Campus, was transformed into a giant candy land. Surrounded by towering cardboard cupcakes and lollipops, visitors milled about, partaking in a variety of sweet and savory treats, including popsicles, churros and fresh fruit.

A stage rested on the far end of the lawn, where a backdrop of cardinal and gold balloons spelled out the phrase, “Sweet #16.” At the front of the stage, USC Thornton School of Music graduate Lilliana de Los Reyes and her band energized an anxious crowd with a collection of classic rock covers. One of the attendees, Lindsey Lawrence, a performance improvement analyst at Keck Medicine of USC, nodded to the music while seeking shade under an umbrella.

“I’ve worked here for over 10 years, and I think this celebration is a really great way to recognize everyone’s hard work and passion,” Lawrence said. “Everybody has put so much hard work, enthusiasm and passion into what they do, and it’s amazing we all can celebrate in this way.”

Lawrence, along with more than 2,000 other guests, came to celebrate Keck Medical Center of USC, which includes Keck Hospital of USC and USC Norris Cancer Hospital, ranking No. 16 on the U.S. News & World Report 2019-20 Best Hospitals Honor Roll. The academic medical center, which recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary, also was ranked among the top 5 hospitals in California and top 3 hospitals in Los Angeles.

The Best Hospitals rankings and ratings are released annually to assist patients and their doctors in making informed decisions about where to receive care for life-threatening conditions or common elective procedures. U.S. News evaluated more than 4,500 medical centers nationwide across 16 specialty areas and nine procedures or conditions. Only 165 hospitals (approximately 3%) were ranked in at least one specialty.

“It is a great honor to be recognized as number 16 in the nation,” said Cindy Lopez, employee health manager at Keck Medicine. “I think what this recognition does for our employees is to continue to motivate us to deliver the absolute best care and service we can. It makes us all very proud to be part of the Keck family.”

Since USC purchased Keck Hospital and USC Norris Cancer Hospital from Tenet Healthcare in 2009, net revenue for the health system has increased from $500 million to nearly $2 billion and outpatient visits have increased from 56,000 to 575,000.

“Our success is not a product of luck or chance. Rather, it is the result of your incredible efforts to delivering exceptional medicine to our patients and a caring experience for their families and loved ones,” Rod Hanners, chief operating officer of Keck Medicine and chief executive officer of Keck Medical Center, said to those in attendance. “Which is why I would like to thank all of you here today — and the many more working at our facilities throughout Southern California. Each and every one of you has contributed to this incredible moment.”

Keck Medical Center posted high scores across many areas of care within the Honor Roll. At No. 4 (tie), urology was the medical center’s highest-ranked specialty, making it the highest-ranked urology specialty in Southern California. Eight additional specialties — geriatrics (No. 6), ophthalmology (No. 11), cardiology & heart surgery (No. 11), gastroenterology & GI surgery (No. 13), nephrology (No. 13), neurology & neurosurgery (No. 16), cancer (No. 21, tie) and pulmonology & lung surgery (No. 33) — also placed in the nation’s top 35, and orthopedics was rated as High Performing.

“This is a major milestone for Keck Medicine of USC,” USC President Carol L. Folt said. Shaking hands with the excited guests, Folt said it was a great honor to celebrate this accomplishment and the recognition that has been received by health care professionals across the nation.

“Every time I’ve tried to congratulate your leadership, they are the first people to say it’s not about me. It’s about our talented staff and the people they serve,” she said. “Patients come here and they depend on you. They trust their lives and their family’s lives to the people at Keck Medicine. This is about world-class research, first-rate treatment and compassionate care that we earn every day because of the trust we instill. So, thank you and congratulations.”

A major factor influencing the rankings was Keck Medical Center’s continued refinement of best practices in numerous aspects of care. In the past year, the health system updated its surgical practices to reduce opioid prescriptions significantly while improving recovery and outcomes. Keck Hospital also received Nurse Magnet recognition from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, one of the highest honors in nursing excellence.

“The rankings are a tool to help people find the very best and most fitting places to receive care. In other words, they are meant to help patients,” said Laura Mosqueda, MD, dean of the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “As dean of the medical school, I am particularly happy for what the rankings mean for and to our students and residents, who have chosen Keck for their education and training. They have entrusted us not only with their careers but also with several years of their lives. They can feel even more confident about and proud of that than ever.”

With the afternoon drawing to a close, Tom Jackiewicz, MPH, CEO of Keck Medicine and SVP for USC, thanked all of the attendees and said the health system’s future was brighter than ever.

“Here at Keck, we’re creating the future of medicine,” Jackiewicz said. “Creating the future is challenging and exciting, and it’s our innovative spirit that’s an important ingredient for our success. At our core, we believe the experience of every patient matters. From the way we greet our patients in the clinics, to the care and compassion we show them in our hospitals, everyone is treated as if they are a part of the Trojan family. We can expect more people to seek out the exceptional care we provide at Keck, and that’s something we should be honored and humbled by.”

— Matthew Vasiliauskas