Sen. Kaine urging for passage of Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 4:25 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -Senator Tim Kaine is urging lawmakers to pass the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, which would help protect the mental health of health care workers.

The legislation is named in honor of Dr. Lorna Breen, a physician from Charlottesville who died by suicide after fighting on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic in New York.

“It was incredible to us, after my sister died, to learn that burnout, depression, anxiety, and even suicide are well-known and actually documented occupational hazards of working in healthcare,” Jennifer Feist, Breen’s sister, said. “We had no idea, that prior to the pandemic, 400 physicians die by suicide, which is twice the rate of the normal population.”

Kaine says this legislation would provide more mental health resources and additional funding for mental and behavioral health treatment programs. The senator says it would also address the stigma around mental health in the industry preventing people from speaking out about their struggles.

“Many in the medical profession - and surveys have shown this again and again - are reluctant to seek help or reluctant to tell others they need help, because they’re worried, not about their patients, not about their health, but their job,” Kaine said.

In August, the act passed in the Senate. Now, it awaits final passage in the House.

Corey Feist, Breen’s brother-in-law, helped found the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes Foundation. He says once the legislation is passed, it would target long-standing issues in health care that existed before the pandemic started.

“The level of burnout, moral distress, and repetitive trauma experienced by our health care workforce when we started this, is now magnified, 10-fold. We need to demonstrate to our healers that this is our recognition of their care for us, and we need to care right back for them,” Feist said.

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