WASHINGTON — Charlottesville native Dr. Lorna Breen got coronavirus herself and recovered, but then came back too quickly.
And she was reluctant to seek any help out of fear it might harm her career.
In April of 2020, at the height of the first wave of the pandemic, Breen took her own life.
A Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that 70% of health care workers between the ages of 18 to 29 indicated they are feeling burnout.
Now, help is on the way. With the stroke of a pen, President Joe Biden enacted the "Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act," sponsored by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia).
The measure will establish grants that seek to reduce and prevent suicide, burnout and mental and behavioral health conditions among health care professionals.
Last August, the Senate unanimously passed Kaine's bill. It passed in the House of Representatives, 392-36.
“So many of our health professionals deal with really intense mental health needs, particularly during COVID,” said Kaine. ”By keeping our health care professionals healthy, everyone in society wins.”
Specifically, the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act will:
- Establish grants for health profession schools, academic health centers, or other institutions to help them train health workers in strategies to prevent suicide, burnout, mental health conditions, and substance use disorders. The grants would also help improve health care professionals’ well-being and job satisfaction.
- Seek to identify and disseminate evidence-informed best practices for reducing and preventing suicide and burnout among health care professionals, training health care professionals in appropriate strategies, and promoting their mental and behavioral health and job satisfaction.
- Establish a national evidence-based education and awareness campaign targeting health care professionals to encourage them to seek support and treatment for mental and behavioral health concerns.
- Establish grants for health care providers and professional associations for employee education, peer-support programming, and mental and behavioral health treatment. Health care providers in current or former COVID-19 hotspots will be prioritized.
- Establish a comprehensive study on health care professionals’ mental and behavioral health and burnout, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on such professionals’ health.