040721 LVMC Woman of the Year

Lompoc Valley Medical Center Critical Care Unit nurse Thao Carey stands with a framed certificate of honor presented by Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham after being named this year's 35th District Woman of the Year.

Lompoc Valley Medical Center nurse Thao Carey has been chosen as this year's 35th Assembly District Woman of the Year for her work and dedication to patient care during the pandemic. 

Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham selected Carey, who works in the Critical Care Unit, as his honoree.

“Our frontline medical workers have gone above and beyond over the past year, and very few people on the Central Coast have exemplified this work ethic like Thao Carey,” Cunningham said. “Throughout the pandemic, Thao took on countless extra shifts to help local residents and Lompoc federal prison inmates recover from COVID-19."

Carey joins 120 female business leaders, educators, volunteers, social justice advocates, elected leaders and medical professionals honored this year in a state of nearly 40 million, according to data from the California State Legislature. 

“I am honored to be included in this wonderful and special group of women from all over California being recognized by our representatives in the California Assembly,” Carey said. “I truly believe that this individual recognition wouldn’t be possible without the support of our incredible team of health-care staff at Lompoc Valley Medical Center and the wonderful patients that I have the pleasure of working with every day.” 

The honor, which is usually bestowed in a formal ceremony on the floors of the state Senate and Assembly during Women’s History Month in March, did not take place this year due to the ongoing pandemic.

However, Cunningham did present Carey with a framed certificate of honor, acknowledging her “outstanding service and dedication to the people of the state of California."

"Our community is grateful for Thao’s commitment, and we thank her and her fellow health-care workers for everything they’ve done and risked this past year,” he said.

Carey, who was born in Vietnam and immigrated to the Bay Area as a child, began her career at LVMC working as a certified nursing assistant at the Comprehensive Care Center after earning a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry from San Francisco State University and a Bachelor of Science in nursing from California State University Channel Islands. 

Earlier this year, Carey was chosen as the recipient of LVMC’s inaugural DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses, an international award that honors nurses for making a profound difference in the lives of their patients and patient families.

For that award, Carey received numerous nominations from patients, families and co-workers who acknowledged her compassion, dedication and willingness to take on extra shifts during the pandemic, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Lisa André covers lifestyles and local news for Santa Ynez Valley News and Lompoc Record.