Lorna M. Breen Dead, New York City ER Doctor Who Treated Coronavirus Patients Commits Suicide

An exterior view of NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital as the coronavirus continues to spread across the United States on March 15, 2020 in New York City. The World Health Organization declared coronavirus (COVID-19) a global pandemic on March 11th.
Cindy Ord / Getty Images

Dr. Lorna M. Breen is dead, according to Boston.com. The 49-year-old was a top emergency room doctor at a Manhattan hospital who treated coronavirus patients in New York City.

Dr. Breen was the medical director of the emergency department at New York-Presbyterian Allen Hospital. As such, she was on the front lines of treating patients as COVID-19 ravaged the Big Apple. She died on Sunday of suicide in Charlottesville, Virginia. The doctor’s family brought her to their home after she became ill with the virus.


Dr. Breen’s Father Said Her Job ‘Killed’ her

The ER physician’s father, Dr. Philip C. Breen, gave an interview on his daughter’s devastating death.

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

Philip revealed that his daughter relayed the devastation she experienced while trying to treat patients and combat the virus, and she described how it took its toll on those who were the sickest with it. At one point, she relayed scenes of patients so ill that they passed away before they could even be taken out of the ambulance and attended to inside the emergency room. Ultimately, Laura contracted the virus, and she spent about a week and a half recovering before she attempted to return to work. However, the hospital sent her home, and at that point, her family took her to stay with them in Virginia.

“She was truly in the trenches of the front line,” her father said. “Make sure she’s praised as a hero because she was. She’s a casualty just as much as anyone else who has died.”

According to her father, Dr. Breen did not have a history of mental illness, and it wasn’t clear what caused her to take her own life. However, he noted that the last time he spoke with her that she appeared detached from things, and the worried father felt that something was wrong with his daughter.


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Dr. Breen received her education at the Medical College of Virginia, and she completed her residency at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. Additionally, she was an Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at CUMC.


New York-Presbyterian Allen Experienced Dozens Of COVID-19 Deaths

Medical workers take in patients at a special coronavirus intake area at Maimonides Medical Center on April 10, 2020 in the Borough Park neighborhood of the Brooklyn borough of New York City.
  Spencer Platt / Getty Images

The New York-Presbyterian Allen hospital has 200 beds, and it is situated on Manhattan’s northern tip. By April 7, at least 57 patients at the hospital had died of COVID-19. At times, as many as 170 patients at the hospital had the virus.

On Sunday night, Dr. Angela Mills, who is the head of emergency services for several New York-Presbyterian campuses, sent out an email informing the staff of Dr. Breen’s passing. The email did not list a cause of death for the doctor.

“A death presents us with many questions that we may not be able to answer,” the email read.

So far, hospital officials have not commented on Dr. Breen’s death.

In all, more than 17,000 patients have died in the state of New York, with 11,460 of those confirmed deaths occurring in New York City, according to New York Magazine. New York City has an additional 5,213 probable deaths from COVID-19.


If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. For readers outside the U.S., visit Suicide.org or Befrienders Worldwide for international resources you can use to find help.