Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Protection Act one step closer to becoming law
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- A bill named in honor of a doctor from Charlottesville who died while serving on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic is one step closer to becoming law.
Dr. Lorna Breen died by suicide in 2020. She was working at a major hospital in New York and was in Charlottesville at the time of her death.
Her family says she faced exhaustion, trauma, and burnout brought on by the pandemic.
Shortly after her passing, Breen's family met with Senator Tim Kaine to create legislation to prevent tragic outcomes in the future.
"The issues of trauma, depression, suicide, those all predated the pandemic. In fact, the suicide rate of nurses and doctors before the pandemic was twice that of the normal population,” said Corey Feist, Breen’s brother-in-law and president of the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation.
The U.S. House passed the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act on Wednesday.
The bipartisan bill, which was introduced last year by Senator Tim Kaine, is the first of its kind.
"Lorna was so deeply dedicated to the well-being of her colleagues," said Feist. "We believe this is an extension of her work."
He says the bill will provide funds to make hospitals more efficient, which will help prevent burnout.
"We founded the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes' Foundation because of the response of the health care community and the need to take care of each other and themselves that just didn't exist," said Feist.
The bill will establish a national education and awareness campaign targeting health care professionals to encourage them to seek support and treatment for mental and behavioral health concerns.
It will also establish grants for treatment.
"In the coming weeks and months, dollars will reach their intended audience from the bill, so we have kind of short-circuited or accelerated the process," Feist said.
He adds that health care workers in current or past COVID-19 hotspots would be the first to get the grants.
The bill passed in the U.S. Senate in August, but it will now go back to that chamber since a small change was made in the House.
If it passes, it will then go to President Joe Biden to be signed into law.