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Top ER Doctor Takes Her Own Life After “Devastating” Toll Of Treating Coronavirus Patients

“She tried to do her job, and it killed her"

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a relenting toll on the world, but none more so than the healthcare workers on the frontline. The New York Times reports a top emergency room doctor that treated coronavirus patients in New York died by suicide on Sunday. Dr Lorna M. Breen, the medical director of the emergency department at New York-Presbyterian Allen Hospital, died in Charlottesville, where she was staying with family. 

Dr Breen’s father, Dr Philip C. Breen, said in an interview that his daughter had described the heartbreaking scenes and the effect the virus took on patients. 

“She tried to do her job, and it killed her,” he said. “Make sure she’s praised as a hero, because she was. She’s a casualty just as much as anyone else who has died.”

According to the New York Times, Dr Breen, 49, had contracted COVID-19 but had gone back to work after a week and a half. The hospital sent her home, before her family intervened to take her to Charlottesville. She did not have a history of mental illness, her father said, adding that when he last spoke with her, she seemed “detached”. 

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

In a statement, New York-Presbyterian hospital said: “Dr Breen is a hero who brought the highest ideals of medicine to the challenging front lines of the emergency department,” the statement said. “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.”

Our thoughts go out to Dr Breen’s family and friends. 

If you or someone you know needs help you can call Lifeline on 131 114 or Beyondblue 1300 224 636.

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