Dr. Lorna Breen Healthcare Legacy Fund

Dr. Lorna Breen Healthcare Legacy Fund

Dear Community, 

We have faced immeasurable challenges during the COVID 19 pandemic, with every aspect of our lives affected and changed forever.  Seeing those closest to us pass away has been the heaviest burden of all. During the pandemic, our class endured the tragic passing of our friend and classmate, Dr. Lorna Breen, who took her own life after suffering from COVID-19 and dealing with the emotionally taxing duty of saving the lives of others as a talented emergency department physician in New York City. To honor Lorna, to memorialize her life’s work, and to make an impact on the complex issue of mental health, we have created the Dr. Lorna Breen Healthcare Legacy Fund. 


Why Focus on Mental Health?

Even before COVID-19, the prevalence of mental illness among adults was increasing. In 2017-2018, 19% of adults experienced a mental illness, an increase of 1.5 million people over last year's dataset*. Suicidal ideation among adults is increasing. Now, with a year of pandemic and social distancing under our belts, the mental health crisis is expected to grow even further. The time is now to shift a focus to this growing problem, for both healthcare workers and the public.

About the Dr. Lorna Breen Healthcare Legacy Fund

The Dr. Lorna Breen Healthcare Legacy Fund will allow the EMBA/MS program to present a monetary award to one student exemplifying extraordinary contributions to the class through comradery, collaboration, caring spirit, and leadership.  The award recipient will have taken meaningful steps in their career expanding mental health services within their community for both patients and healthcare workers.  The awardee will be granted an opportunity to collaborate with the administration and staff to design initiatives within the EMBA/MS program to expand mental health support for healthcare workers, students and the community.


How can you be part of making a difference?

There are a few ways:

  1. Make a gift here directly to the fund (and don’t forget about employer matching contributions!)

  2. Sign up for the “Run for Lorna Virtual 5k” and get your miles in between May 1st and May 16th. (Click here to sign up). Better yet, get a small group together to socialize (distantly, where appropriate), work on your mental health, stretch your legs, and get some Vitamin D. 

  3. Spread the word! Tell your friends about the Dr. Lorna Breen Healthcare Legacy Fund and let them know that they can contribute to funding healthcare leaders digging into the complex problem of mental health. 

More about Lorna

Dr. Lorna Breen was an extraordinary human being.  She was an outstanding physician and a compassionate leader who cared deeply about her staff at the Allen Pavilion Emergency Department in New York, New York.  She was a runner, a snowboarder, a cellist, and a salsa dancer, among many other passions. Lorna pursued nothing half-way, she was diligent and inspiring in her interests. Above all, she had an unwavering desire to connect and help people.  We knew Dr. Breen as Lorna.  With a beaming smile and impeccably dressed, she always sat in the first row, in order to be focused and capture it all, according to her.  Lorna was an invaluable member of our Class of 2021 family. 


As an accomplished physician leader, Lorna pursued the EMBA/MS degree to understand how she could support her staff and improve the provision of healthcare.  Lorna’s questions in class revealed so much about her radiant spirit, desire to facilitate positive change, and support people: how can I apply this concept to improve processes in my ED, would this help my staff develop professionally? She was caring and responsible, which made her a sought-after teammate and a beautiful friend.


When the COVID 19 pandemic hit, to say that Lorna was at the front lines, would be an understatement. Before most of us recognized there was a front line, Lorna, and other ED physicians and staff, had already started the battle, and were facing the realities of the pandemic. But the daily and hourly toll of the surge was too unprecedented to bear.   Seeing patients struggling to breathe and dying while in the ED, and having to deploy staff to the front lines as they recovered from the virus themselves made many in our community feel helpless.  Soon enough, Lorna caught the virus, recovered physically, and returned to work, Lorna died by suicide, on April 26, 2020. Her family, colleagues and friends, and our entire cohort were shaken to the core. 


Lorna’s passing has made us all face the reality of how central mental health is to the provision of healthcare at large, and to the overall wellbeing of healthcare providers. Through the Dr. Lorna Breen Healthcare Legacy Fund, we will recognize and support future students for their contributions in promoting and expanding mental health services, to support the legacy and honor the memory of our friend and classmate, Dr. Lorna Breen.