‘She tried to do her job, and it killed her’: Doctor on front line takes her own life

A top doctor who was on the front line of the fight against coronavirus in New York City has taken her own life.

Dr Lorna Breen, who had recovered from COVID-19 herself and returned to work at New York-Presbyterian Allen Hospital in Manhattan, was staying with family in Virginia.

She was taken to UVA Hospital where she died of self-inflicted injuries on Sunday, Charlottesville Police Department said.

Medics bring in a patient at a coronavirus intake tent at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn
Image:New York has been the worst-hit state of the US since the start of the coronavirus outbreak

“She tried to do her job, and it killed her,” her father, Dr Phillip Breen, told The New York Times.

He said his daughter contracted coronavirus herself and took a week-and-a-half off to recover before returning to work at the hospital where she was medical director of the emergency department.

But she was sent back home by the hospital, and the family intervened, suspecting something might be wrong.

She had no history of mental illness, her father said, but seemed “detached” and described some of the horrors she had witnessed at the hospital while battling the virus.

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He said: “She was truly in the trenches of the front line.

“Make sure she’s praised as a hero, because she was.

“She’s a casualty just as much as anyone else who has died.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and FDNY commissioner Daniel Nigro took part in a large show of support from first responders for healthcare workers at Manhattan’s Bellevue Hospital

New York emergency workers applaud health staff

New York accounts for almost a third (17,500) of America’s coronavirus-related 56,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking the outbreak.

“Words cannot convey the sense of loss we feel today,” the hospital said in a statement to NBC News.

“Dr Breen is a hero who brought the highest ideals of medicine to the challenging front lines of the emergency department.

“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.”

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Charlottesville Police Chief RaShall Brackney said: “Front line healthcare professionals and first responders are not immune to the mental or physical effects of the current pandemic.

“On a daily basis, these professionals operate under the most stressful of circumstances, and the coronavirus has introduced additional stressors.

Coronavirus: The infection numbers in real time

Coronavirus: The infection numbers in real time

“Personal protective equipment (PPE) can reduce the likelihood of being infected, but what they cannot protect heroes like Dr Lorna Breen, or our first responders against is the emotional and mental devastation caused by this disease.”

:: Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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