ACOEP stands in strong support of the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, introduced in the Senate by Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Todd Young (R-IN), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Bill Cassidy (R-LA). The bipartisan legislation seeks to provide mental health support to medical professionals and takes aim at barriers to mental healthcare for emergency medicine providers, including fear of termination, judgment, or even the loss of a medical license.
This legislation is named in honor of Lorna Breen, an emergency physician tragically lost to suicide as a direct result of burnout exponentially exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is no secret that as emergency physicians we endure an incredible amount of burnout,” says ACOEP President Robert Suter DO, MFA, FACOEP-D. “The mental health toll of our profession is substantial during routine shifts. When the phenomenal stress of the COVID-19 pandemic is added, it creates very real, very overwhelming mental health risks to all emergency professionals. We must protect ourselves and each other.”
This bill not only expands mental health support services to those providing care to COVID-19 patients, it funds studies on the mental health effects of the pandemic on mental health professionals. Furthermore, this bill creates behavior and mental health training programs, as well as a national effort to encourage medical professionals to seek help and treatment.