The medical director of a New York emergency department that has treated coronavirus patients died by suicide on Sunday, her father told The New York Times.
Lorna Breen, the medical director of the emergency department at New York-Presbyterian Allen Hospital, died Sunday in Charlottesville, Va., her father Philip told the newspaper.
“She tried to do her job, and it killed her,” he told the Times.
Breen told the Times his daughter had contracted the virus on the job but returned to work after recuperating at home. The hospital sent her home, after which her family brought her to Charlottesville, according to the elder Breen.
He added that his daughter had no history of mental illness but said the last time they had spoken, her manner was detached as she described patients in her care dying before they could even be removed from ambulances.
“She was truly in the trenches of the front line,” Breen told the Times. “Make sure she’s praised as a hero, because she was. She’s a casualty just as much as anyone else who has died.”
The 200-bed hospital has seen 59 patient deaths from the virus as of April 7 and at times has had up to 170 coronavirus patients, according to the Times.
Lawrence Melniker, the vice chairman for quality care at NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, told the Times Breen was widely respected throughout the NewYork Presbyterian network, which also includes the Columbia University Irving Medical Center and the Will Cornell Medical Center.
“You don’t get to a position like that at Allen without being very talented,” he told the Times.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in mid-April that more than 9,000 health care workers have tested positive for the virus, including at least 37 who died. The CDC said there were likely numerous other unidentified and unreported cases.