E.R. doctor who treated COVID-19 patients in NYC commits suicide, family says

49-year-old doctor had contracted virus herself, recovered and then took her life.

Updated: April 27, 2020 - 11:48pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

An emergency room doctor who treated coronavirus patients and had contracted the illness herself died after committing suicide, her family and police disclosed.

Dr. Lorna M. Breen, 49, who worked as medical director of the emergency department at NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital, went back to work after approximately 1.5 weeks of recovery from her own infection. The hospital sent her home again, before her family intervened to bring her to Charlottesville, Va., according to her father.

"She tried to do her job, and it killed her,” Philip C. Breen told the New York Times.

The younger Breen died in Charlottesville, Va. Charlottesville police spokesman Tyler Hawn explained in an email that police responded to a call for medical assistance. "The victim was taken to U.V.A. Hospital for treatment, but later succumbed to self-inflicted injuries,” Hawn said.

"She was truly in the trenches of the front line," said Breen's father, who also is a doctor. 

"Make sure she’s praised as a hero, because she was," he added. "She’s a casualty just as much as anyone else who has died."

The hospital hailed its late colleague.

"Dr. Breen is a hero who brought the highest ideals of medicine to the challenging front lines of the emergency department," New York-Presbyterian/Columbia said in a statement published in the Times. "Our focus today is to provide support to her family, friends and colleagues as they cope with this news during what is already an extraordinarily difficult time."