In 2011, Dr. Breen was promoted to the helm of the emergency division, the place colleagues stated she tended to unravel issues with systematic precision and most well-liked concrete options.
“She liked structure,” stated Dr. James Giglio, who was then her boss. “She liked working in an organized world.”
That world would later distort and crumple. By early this yr, the coronavirus was slipping into New York, undetected and underestimated.
An insidious sickness
In late February, as elected officers have been nonetheless assuring the general public that the virus didn’t pose a critical menace, Dr. Breen sat down at her laptop and up to date a contingency plan addressed to her household. It was a compilation of directions on the place to seek out her passwords, routes she would use if she needed to get out of the town and how members of the family ought to contact each other.
She had created it after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist assaults and revised it after Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012 — it was her methodical response to calamity.
The coronavirus, she was satisfied, would catch hospitals off guard.
Per week later, she went on a deliberate trip with Ms. Feist, her sister, in Big Sky, Mont. They sat in a sizzling tub and mused about going to Italy in a number of years. By the time Dr. Breen returned from the journey, a state of emergency had been declared in New York.
At the Allen, discussions about staffing and provides escalated. A lawyer from New Rochelle, N.Y., had been identified not too long ago with Covid-19 although he had not traveled to any areas the place the illness was recognized to be spreading. It was one of many first indications that the virus had already taken maintain within the state, and a crimson flag for the NewYork-Presbyterian system, the place he was a affected person.