On Nov. 19, Keck Medicine of USC held a special virtual ceremony marking the fifth annual USC Choi Family Awards for Excellence in Patient-Centered Care.

The awards recognize nurses, fellows, physicians, non-clinical staff and departments for demonstrating patient-centered care, compassion and excellence. These prizes are part of the USC Choi Family Excellence in Patient-Centered Care Endowment established in 2016 by Keck Medicine of USC through a gift from the Choi family.

This year, 33 nominees and eight teams across five categories were honored.

The 2020 award-winners are:

Nurse: Sean Hart, Pasadena Cardiology Clinic

Resident or Fellow: Nima Nassiri, MD, medical resident, urology, Keck Medical Center

Non-Nurse Staff: Debra Schrader, assistant professor of clinical otolaryngology – head and neck surgery

Physician: Glenn Ehresmann, MD, rheumatology

Department/Unit: Keck Hospital PACU

Each awardee receives $2,000, along with an additional $2,000 for their department to be used for programs, training and activities to support and foster superior patient-centered care. Also, each recipient’s name will appear on a perpetual plaque located in the Keck Hospital of USC Cardinal Lobby.

“Patients are at the heart of everything we do here at Keck Medicine,” said Rod Hanners, Keck Medicine interim CEO. “Our partnership with the Choi family ensures that our Keck culture of service and patient advocacy will be supported now and in the future.”

Besides the awards, the USC Choi Family Excellence in Patient-Centered Care Endowment also supports the Choi Family Patient-Centered Care Program and the Choi Family Patient-Centered Care Symposium.

The program is available to the entire health system as a means to promote collaborative interactions between patients and caregivers — helping to form partnerships and achieve the best health outcomes. During the first five years of the endowment, the enterprise has been able to send more than 90 colleagues to conferences with a focus on patient- and family-centered care.

Additionally, the symposium provides caregiver education and training focused on compassion, empathy and advocacy. It is open to all health care professionals and, during the event, attendees learn about creating a culture that promotes superior patient experiences.

“As many of us in the health care field know, there is a direct correlation between the patient’s experience, the quality of care they receive and, most importantly, the patient’s clinical outcome,” said Narsing Rao, MD, interim dean for the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “This is why the support from the Choi family has become so important. Through their generous gift, we have and can continue to transform the ways in which we understand, treat and cure diseases, thus improving the quality of life for individuals and families.”

The Choi family are longtime supporters of USC and Keck Medicine. In addition to their contributions to the health system, the family’s generosity has supported many other USC programs, including stem cell research at the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research; an artist-in-residence endowment at the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance; and a violin scholarship honoring the late Eudice Shapiro at the USC Thornton School of Music.

“Keck Medicine saved my father-in-law’s life five years ago,” Henry Choi said. “In fact, my wife Queence eloquently has said that everyone we encountered from parking attendants, receptionists, nurses, residents and doctors all demonstrated the patient-centered care culture unequivocally. To all of you at Keck Medicine, I am humbled by your compassion, your empathy, your tireless work ethic, and for practicing beyond exceptional medicine.”

A recording of the 2020 celebration will be available online for the next six months and can be viewed by visiting takeonedigital.com/USCChoiFamilyAwards/.

The USC Choi Family Awards for Excellence in Patient-Centered Care are open each year to all health care professionals at Keck Medicine of USC. Details about next year’s celebration and nomination process will be released in early 2021.

— Matthew Vasiliauskas