While we are all too aware that the coronavirus has challenged our healthcare system, our country and our world, the pressures physicians and health care workers faced even before the pandemic are complex and immense. They dedicate their careers to keeping people healthy but too often do not receive the care they need to address their own well-being.
Physicians have a high rate of suicide with roughly one doctor dying every day, nearly double the rate of the general population. One study showed that depression affects an estimated 12% of male physicians and up to 19.5% of female physicians. Sixty-two percent of nurses and 42% of physicians have said that they are feeling burned out while battling COVID-19.
Without question, this is a deeply troubling situation. Russell Herder was asked to assist the family of a brilliant physician who fell victim to this tragic trend. Dr. Lorna Breen was the medical director of the emergency department at Upper Manhattan’s New York-Presbyterian Allen Hospital. Struggling to grasp the breadth, depth and despair of her work in the early months of the coronavirus, she died by suicide at just 49 years of age. To her family and colleagues, and to us all, it was unfathomable. Producing a video to share her story across the country and help prevent further such losses was our deep honor.