'It killed her': Top doctor treating coronavirus patients takes her own life

Yahoo News Staff
·3-min read

A highly respected emergency room doctor who worked on the frontlines of the coronavirus crisis in Manhattan has taken her own life.

“She tried to do her job, and it killed her.”

That is the heartbreaking assessment of Dr Lorna Breen’s father after his daughter, 49, passed away on Sunday, local time.

In an interview with The New York Times, the grieving dad described the immense toll the pandemic has taken on healthcare workers in the hard-hit city.

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Dr Breen was the medical director of the emergency department at New York-Presbyterian Allen Hospital. Source: Facebook
Dr Breen was the medical director of the emergency department at New York-Presbyterian Allen Hospital. Source: Facebook

Dr Phillip Breen said his daughter had been infected by the coronavirus and had returned to work after isolating for about a week and a half. However, the hospital intervened and sent her home again, at which point she reportedly went to stay with her parents in Charlottesville.

While Dr Lorna Breen was still in New York, her father noticed something was wrong when he spoke to her on the phone, telling the publication she seemed detached.

During the phone call, his daughter described the onslaught of patients who were dead on arrival as ambulances ferried them to the emergency department at the New York-Presbyterian Allen Hospital where she worked.

According to her Facebook page, Dr Breen first starting working at the hospital in 2004.

Her father said she did not have a history of mental illness and that he believed the coronavirus crisis played a role in her death.

“She was truly in the trenches of the front line,” he 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 woman’s death was confirmed by the Charlottesville Police Department who said the victim “succumbed to self inflicted injuries” after being rushed to hospital.

Medical workers wear masks in Times Square during the the COVID-19 shutdown on April 26. Source: Getty
Medical workers wear masks in Times Square during the the COVID-19 shutdown on April 26. Source: Getty

The hospital where Dr Breen worked – a non-profit academic medical centre affiliated with two Ivy League medical schools – described Dr Lorna Breen as a “hero who brought the highest ideals of medicine to the challenging front lines of the emergency department”.

New York City records over 17,500 COVID-19 deaths

New York has been one of the worst hit cities in the world with 17,515 confirmed COVID-19 deaths to date, according to a rolling tally by Johns Hopkins University.

New York state has conducted more than 800,000 tests but roughly 20 per cent of people are still testing positive for the novel coronavirus.

In order to ramp up testing and to ease the burden on healthcare workers, health clinics in the city will soon take a new approach on coronavirus testing, using a procedure that lets people collect samples themselves at a health care worker’s direction, New York city mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday, local time.

He said the “self-swab” tests would allow for more and easier testing and make it safer for test-seekers and health care workers alike.

“This is something we’re going to start using aggressively because it will be better for everyone,” he said.

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