Dr. Lorna Breen Bill becomes law, family speaks out
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- For the Feist family, positive change has come out of a tragic situation.
The family is now speaking out after President Joe Biden signed the Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act into law.
It's in honor of Charlottesville native Dr. Lorna Breen, who died by suicide while working on the frontlines of the pandemic.
The Feist family worked around the clock for two years, not just for Breen, but for the thousands of health care workers silently struggling. They say it's a permanent solution for a big problem and proof that one person can make an impact.
"As unexplainably tragic as April 2020 was for us, this was kind of the other end of that,” said Corey Feist, the brother-in-law of Dr. Lorna Breen.
It's the ending of one chapter for Feist and his family, and the start of another.
"It's amazing how much one person can do if they put their mind to it and if they ask for help,” he added.
On Friday, Biden signed the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, named in honor of Feist's sister-in-law, who died by suicide in 2020 after fighting on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York.
"Too many of our healers suffer because of the challenges that they deal with," said Senator Tim Kaine, who sponsored and introduced the bill.
Feist, with the help of Kaine, created the bipartisan legislation, which creates tangible mental health resources for health care workers like peer support and mental health treatments.
The goal is to prevent burnout and suicide.
"Every single person goes into this work because they want to take care of someone else. They don't always recognize that one of the key components there, just like it would be to put on the gloves and take care of a patient with PPE, mental health PPE is just as important,” said Feist.
Witnessing the historic moment, Feist and the rest of Breen's family spent time with Biden and even got a private tour of Marine One.
But Feist says what means the most is seeing the local impact of the law.
"For this community, the community that's been embracing our family for the past two decades now to be on the receiving end of this hard work, is wonderful,” he said.
To put it in perspective, the law will provide $5.5 million in funding for mental health for frontline workers in Virginia. The University of Virginia Health System is receiving more than $2 million of that.
Feist says he's quit his job in business to work full time for the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes Foundation and says this is only the beginning.