House passes bill named after physician who died by suicide while working on pandemic front lines

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CHARLOTESVILLE, Va. – The Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, which would help doctors, nurses, and aids, has been passed by the House of Representatives.

The act is named after Lorna Breen, a former physician from Charlottesville, who passed away by suicide while working on the front lines fighting the coronavirus pandemic in April 2020.

Breens’ brother, Corey Feist, is the President and Co-Founder of Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes Foundation, which has been working to get the bill passed for the last year and a half.

Feist told NBC29, “Prior to the pandemic, the healthcare workforce was significantly burnt out, and in fact, going into the pandemic people across the industry were talking about healthcare burnout as the number one issue for the year.”

He said that even before the pandemic, the trauma and depression associated with the healthcare field created suicide rates twice the national average.

The goal of the Lorna Breen Act is to provide grants to reduce and prevent suicide and burnout, as well as fund mental and behavioral health treatment.

If the bill is approved, the first healthcare workers to receive grants would be those who work, or have worked, in current or past COVID-19 hotspots.

The bill was passed by the Senate in August, but must be approved again after a small change. If approved, it will be sent to President Biden’s desk to be signed.

About the Author:

Kamryn Buza joined 10 News as an intern in September 2021.