Local Women of the Year Honorees on the Frontlines

Dr. Wint Hun was honored as a Woman of the Year and is a board-certified Infectious Disease and Internal Medicine specialist.
Another honoree was Susan Sung Hee Lee is a registered nurse at USC VHH.



Recently Congressman Adam Schiff held a luncheon for the 2020 and 2021 Women of the Year. Several of the 2021 honorees worked in the medical field. Two of the 2021 honorees were Susan Sung Hee Lee of La Crescenta and Dr. Wint Hun of La Cañada Flintridge.

Hun is a board-certified Infectious Disease and Internal Medicine specialist and treats patients at her office and at Adventist Health Glendale, USC Verdugo Hills Hospital and Methodist Hospital in Arcadia.

“Dr. Hun’s fearlessness and expertise emboldened USC Verdugo Hills Hospital’s team giving them courage to battle the healthcare crisis,” Schiff stated.

Hun missed the initial call from Congressman Schiff letting her know she had been chosen as a woman of the year. She said she was “very happy” when she heard of the recognition.

These past two years have been incredibly busy for Hun and her colleagues.

“At VHH I am part of the infectious disease team,” she said.

She works on a variety of infectious diseases and still sees patients with infectious diseases that are not the result of the pandemic. But in the past two years patients with COVID-19 have dominated her practice.

“At one point I was seeing over 60 patients a day [with COVID-19],” she said. “During the COVID [surges] time I didn’t have a day off.”

She said she worked for five months without a day off. She has a partner in her practice who helped but everyone was busy.

She said about 90% of patients who have entered the Emergency Room [ER] at VHH with COVID-19 are unvaccinated. The Delta variant of COVID-19 is much more infectious than prior variants and is driving the spikes in cases.

“[COVID] is a respiratory virus, very contagious and can cause [more] damage,” Hun said. “COVID is much more transmissible especially with the Delta variant.”

She added that patients with Delta are “very sick.”

“No matter how much we try, the patients stay very sick,” she said.

She added that COVID-19 is different from other respiratory diseases like pneumonia.

“The corona virus mutates all the time, and sometimes it mutates and becomes much more efficient,” she said.

That is being seen with the Delta variant and why those in the medical field are battle weary as numbers of COVID patients rise.

“In [just] a week our cases [have risen] notably. For the past six month we were down to zero and now are picking up with over 20 or more [patients] a day,” she said. “It seems that we are mostly seeing cases – 90% – [in] unvaccinated [patients].”

There are some patients who come to the ER who are vaccinated yet have COVID-19 and are deemed “break through” cases but that is rare. Hun estimated about 3% or lower are COVID cases of people who have been vaccinated.

“[Vaccinated patients] have mild symptoms, not very serious, and they respond to treatment and recovery is much better,” she added.

She explained that the coronavirus mutates as it infects a person, especially those who are not vaccinated, so people are like walking “petri dishes” as the virus mutates into stronger variants.

“When people are vaccinated they are helping their loved ones and their community,” she said.

Fellow Woman of the Year honoree Susan Lee is a registered nurse at USC VHH and said she too is seeing an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.

“We are seeing a rise in cases, a lot in the ER,” she said.

Lee works in the Intensive Care Unit at USC-VHH where she has been a relief charge nurse for about 11 years.

“Our ER is very busy. A lot of [patients are] coming in with COVID-like symptoms or [they] have been exposed to COVID,” she said.

Like Hun, throughout the pandemic Lee worked well beyond her 12-hour shifts.

“She also used her sewing machine to sew her own scrub caps and provided scrub caps to each of her colleagues, as well as putting her years of haircutting experience from her mission trips to use by giving haircuts to her colleagues when the hair salons and barber shops were closed,” Schiff stated.

Also like Hun, the notice of her being honored as a woman of the year went to voicemail.

“I didn’t know until a few days later,” she said. “I was kind of baffled.”

She wasn’t certain why she was chosen but after speaking to someone in the Congressman’s office she was told many of the honorees of 2021 were frontline workers who made an impact during COVID.

Lee is now seeing COVID numbers going up – not just at VHH but also throughout the country.

“We [at USC-VHH] had a long break with no COVID cases; we are now getting more and I think [some] of us are [dealing with] PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder),” she said. “It feels like we are thrown into water and are barely staying afloat.”

She is seeing an overall increase in the number of patients in the ICU.

“We have a good [number] of patients [in the ICU],’ she said. “Not all are [COVID-related] but we do have two or three at any given time.”

She feels that of those who are hospitalized the majority is unvaccinated.

“We hear a lot of ‘I wish I had gotten the vaccine. I wish I knew it would infect me,’” she said.

She added the Delta variant does not discriminate between those who are healthy and those with pre-existing conditions. She sees vaccinations as the best defense not only against the more contagious Delta variant but also for variants in the future.

“It is not about us,” she said adding it should not be an argument of the right not to get vaccinated; it should be what is best for themselves, their families and their community.

“It is about the greater good,” she said. “We all have to do our part.”