A doctor in the New York City emergency room who recovered from COVID-19 and continued to treat coronavirus patients has died by suicide, his father confirmed to CNN.
Dr. Lorna Breen, 49, died a hero, said his father, Philip Breen.
“She was in the trenches,” he said. “She was a hero. “
Lorna Breen died Sunday morning by suicide in Charlottesville, Virginia, said her father.
Breen has worked at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and the New York-Presbyterian hospital system.
“She went down into the trenches and was killed by the enemy on the front line,” said Philip Breen. “She loved New York and wouldn’t hear about living anywhere else. She loved her colleagues and did what she could for them. “
“I just want people to know how special it was,” he added.
Philip Breen is a retired trauma surgeon, and he and his daughter would talk frequently about work, he said.
Lorna Breen told her father that her colleagues were working 18-hour days and sleeping in the halls, and that the ambulances could not enter because there were so many people.
She worked in the emergency room and had been on the front lines for weeks dealing with the onslaught of cases, said her father. New York City has been the pandemic epicenter of the United States, recording nearly 300,000 cases and more than 22,000 deaths Tuesday morning.
Breen contracted Covid-19 and took a week and a half to recover, but when she returned to work, it couldn’t last 12 hours, said her father. However, she felt like she had to go back there to help her colleagues.
Then a doctor friend visited Breen at home and told him that she should return home to Virginia, where most of her family are based, said Philip Breen. Friends and relatives helped her get to Charlottesville.
Lorna Breen was quickly admitted to the University of Virginia hospital for burnout, said her father, adding that her mother is a doctor in the department where she was treated.
After about a week, Lorna Breen left the hospital to stay with her mother, said her father. Then, last weekend, she went to stay with her sister, and it was there that she died.
Police responded to a call for medical help on Sunday and identified the victim as Breen, the Charlottesville police department said in a press release. She was taken to the University of Virginia hospital for treatment and “later died of self-inflicted injuries,” said police.
“Front-line health professionals and first responders are not immune to the mental or physical effects of the current pandemic,” said RaShall Brackney, chief of police for Charlottesville. “On a daily basis, these professionals operate under the most stressful circumstances, and the Coronavirus has introduced additional stressors. “
“Words cannot convey the feeling of loss we feel today,” said the hospitals in New York where Breen worked.
“Dr. Breen is a hero who brought the highest ideals of medicine to the tough front lines of the emergency department,” they said. “Our goal today is to provide support to family, friends and colleagues as they face this news during an already extremely difficult time.”