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Bill to help health care workers struggling with mental health signed into law

Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act
Posted at 9:05 PM, Mar 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-18 21:05:52-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- A bill named in honor of a Charlottesville native who died by suicide while working as a doctor during the pandemic was signed into law on Friday.

The legislation, introduced in July 2020 by Sen. Tim Kaine, (D-Virginia) will provide grants, in-depth studies, and public awareness campaigns to help spur change in the field of healthcare, where burnout, addiction, and suicide have long been unaddressed issues.

The legislation is named in honor of Dr. Lorna Breen, a doctor from Charlottesville, who was working on the frontlines during COVID-19 in New York.

Breen, who had experienced an unfathomable amount of loss of life during her shifts early in the pandemic, contracted the virus herself and was sent into quarantine.

When she returned to work, still physically weak from the virus, the mental anguish of experiencing more chaos, illness, and death, forced Breen to seek psychiatric help at the University of Virginia.

Exhausted and devastated that she was unable to help others, and reeling from the mortification of needing mental health help herself, Breen died by suicide on April 26, 2020, at her family home.

“We want to thank Senator Kaine and the bipartisan, bicameral supporters of this first of its kind legislation. We have learned so many lessons from COVID-19. One of those is that supporting the well-being of the health care workforce is absolutely critical,” said Jennifer Breen Feist and Corey Feist, Co-Founders of the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes Foundation.

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