Support the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Fund, which wants to make it easier for medical personnel to seek mental health services.
Dr. Lorna Breen was someone we couldn’t afford to lose.
By 2020, she had long since attained her dream job as the physician director of an emergency room in Manhattan.
Then COVID-19 hit the city.
Breen, who had no history of issues that might flag her as a suicide risk, found herself plunged into a nightmare. Victims of the virus swamped her hospital and kept swamping it. COVID-19 killed pitilessly and without relent. Some patients died before they could be transferred from an ambulance. Breen apparently likened the situation to Armageddon.
She caught the virus herself, but recovered after about ten days and returned to working 12-hour shifts.
Breen tended to COVID-19 sufferers valiantly at the expense of her own mental health. In late April 2020, she died by suicide. Her father told the New York Times, “She tried to do her job, and it killed her.”
Her family founded the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation to address a serious cultural problem in the world of medicine: those who realize that aspects of their jobs might be causing them mental illness avoid seeking help for fear they’ll be sidelined or even fired.
Jennifer Feist, Breen’s sister, told the Today show: “I’m hearing so much from people who work in health care saying, ‘We always have to be brave. We always have to be strong. It’s not okay to say that you’re suffering. There’s a stigma.”
“I know my sister felt like she couldn’t sit down. She couldn’t stop working, and she certainly couldn’t tell anybody she was struggling. And that needs to be a conversation that changes. People need to be able to say they’re suffering and to take a break.”
We at OTYCD would add that the medical field needs to have plans in place to support and assist medical personnel who endure horrific situations such as an ER overwhelmed for weeks with people sick and dying from a disease that’s too damn new to have confirmed best treatment practices for yet.
To us, it seems natural and normal for folks to get depressed by the unspeakable situation that Dr. Breen faced.
Lots of people enter medicine with hopes of saving people from death and pain. It stands to reason that if those people are thrust into a situation where patient after patient dies despite their best efforts–and heck, die before they can even get them from the ambulance to the ER–that’s gonna mess with their heads.
Send them out there without enough personal protective equipment (PPE), oxygen tanks, ventilators, and other standard medical gear, and yeah, that’s a recipe for workplace trauma.
They should be able to get the help they need without fear of stigma or ending their careers.
See the website for the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation:
See its About page:
Like it on Facebook:
Follow it on Twitter:
Donate to the foundation:
Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the blue button on the upper right or checking the About & Subscribe page. And tell your friends about the blog!