THE ISSUE

Like Lorna, physicians and health care providers suffer from a critically high degree of burnout and stress. Currently, more than one physician in the United States dies by suicide every day. The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has magnified the issues faced by frontline health care providers, yet many continue to suffer in silence out of fear of the professional stigma of seeking help.

In the majority of states, this fear is exacerbated by required disclosures of mental health assistance, regardless of scale or severity, to licensing boards and health care institutions. These disclosures have resulted in censure by licensing boards, termination of employment, and have had a widespread negative professional impact for many – reinforcing a culture of suffering in silence.

In order to avoid professional repercussions, overly stressed and burnt-out physicians and providers often feel trapped taking care of patients with little to no relief. It is not surprising that the quality of patient care suffers in parallel. Without immediate action, the added stress from the pandemic crisis will put more pressure on our caregivers, resulting in more loss of life and a further decline in patient care. This will no longer be a health care industry problem: It will affect all of us. For more about this issue, please review our articles published by the National Academy of Medicine, US News and World Report, The Boston Globe, and The Dallas Morning News.

Lorna cared deeply about the well-being of her professional colleagues as much as she cared about her patients. As a way of extending her care for her colleagues, Lorna’s family has created the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation.