Top E.R. Doctor Who Treated Coronavirus Patients Dies by Suicide

A high emergency room physician at a Manhattan hospital that handled many coronavirus sufferers died by suicide on Sunday, her father and the police stated.

Dr. Lorna M. Breen, the medical director of the emergency division at NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital, died in Charlottesville, Va., the place she was staying with household, her father stated in an interview.

Tyler Hawn, a spokesman for the Charlottesville Police Department, stated in an e-mail that officers on Sunday responded to a name in search of medical help.

“The victim was taken to U.V.A. Hospital for treatment, but later succumbed to self-inflicted injuries,” Mr. Hawn stated.

Dr. Breen’s father, Dr. Philip C. Breen, stated she had described devastating scenes of the toll the coronavirus took on sufferers.

“She tried to do her job, and it killed her,” he stated.

The elder Dr. Breen stated his daughter had contracted the coronavirus however had gone again to work after recuperating for a couple of week and a half. The hospital despatched her dwelling once more, earlier than her household intervened to deliver her to Charlottesville, he stated.

Dr. Breen, 49, didn’t have a historical past of psychological sickness, her father stated. But he stated that when he final spoke together with her, she appeared indifferent, and he might inform one thing was mistaken. She had described to him an onslaught of sufferers who had been dying earlier than they might even be taken out of ambulances.

“She was truly in the trenches of the front line,” he stated.

He added: “Make sure she’s praised as a hero, because she was. She’s a casualty just as much as anyone else who has died.”

In a press release, NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia used that language to explain her. “Dr. Breen is a hero who brought the highest ideals of medicine to the challenging front lines of the emergency department,” the assertion stated. “Our focus today is to provide support to her family, friends and colleagues as they cope with this news during what is already an extraordinarily difficult time.”

Dr. Angela Mills, head of emergency medical providers for a number of NewYork-Presbyterian campuses, together with Allen, despatched an e-mail to hospital staffers on Sunday evening informing them of Dr. Breen’s demise. The e-mail, which was reviewed by The New York Times, didn’t point out a reason for demise. Dr. Mills, who couldn’t be reached for remark, stated within the e-mail that the hospital was deferring to the household’s request for privateness.

“A death presents us with many questions that we may not be able to answer,” the e-mail learn.

Aside from work, Dr. Breen crammed her time with associates, hobbies and sports activities, associates stated. She was an avid member of a New York ski membership and traveled commonly out west to ski and snowboard. She was additionally a deeply spiritual Christian who volunteered at a house for older individuals as soon as every week, associates stated. Once a 12 months, she threw a big celebration on the roof deck of her Manhattan dwelling.

She was very shut together with her sisters and mom, who lived in Virginia.

One colleague stated he had spent dozens of hours speaking to Dr. Breen not solely about medication however about their lives and the hobbies she loved, which additionally included salsa dancing. She was a full of life presence, outgoing and extroverted, at work occasions, the colleague stated.

NewYork-Presbyterian Allen is a 200-bed hospital on the northern tip of Manhattan that at instances had as many as 170 sufferers with Covid-19, the sickness brought on by the coronavirus. As of April 7, there had been 59 affected person deaths on the hospital, in response to an inner doc.

Dr. Lawrence A. Melniker, the vice chair for high quality care on the NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, stated that Dr. Breen was a well-respected and well-liked physician within the NewYork-Presbyterian system, a community of hospitals that features the Columbia University Irving Medical Center and the Weill Cornell Medical Center.

“You don’t get to a position like that at Allen without being very talented,” he stated.

Dr. Melniker stated the coronavirus had offered uncommon psychological well being challenges for emergency physicians all through New York, the epicenter of the disaster within the United States.

Doctors are accustomed to responding to all types of grisly tragedies, he stated. But not often have they got to fret about getting sick themselves, or about infecting their colleagues, family and friends members.

And not often have they got to deal with their very own co-workers.

Another colleague stated that Dr. Breen was all the time searching for others, ensuring her docs had protecting tools or no matter else they wanted. Even when she was dwelling recovering from Covid-19, she texted her co-workers to test in and see how they had been doing, the colleague stated.

[If you’re having ideas of suicide, name the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to for a list of additional resources. Here’s what you can do when a loved one is severely depressed.]

Benjamin Weiser and Joseph Goldstein contributed reporting.

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