Advocacy and Public Affairs Manager
(Bethesda, MD) - The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) strongly supports S. 4349, the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, legislation that aims to help reduce and prevent suicide, burnout, and mental and behavioral health conditions among healthcare professionals. The bill is named after Dr. Lorna Breen, the New York City emergency room physician who died by suicide after treating COVID-19 patients.
Physicians and other healthcare workers in the United States have long suffered from high rates of depression, burnout, addiction, and suicide. The COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating these mental health challenges and amplifies the need for immediate action to prioritize and protect our healthcare professionals’ mental health.
“Osteopathic medicine emphasizes a whole-person approach to care, with an understanding we must consider body, mind and spirit when caring for each patient,” said AACOM President and CEO Robert A. Cain, DO, FACOI, FAODME. “If we continue to allow our healthcare professionals, in particular those on the front lines, to suffer in silence, we will not only be failing them, but we will also be harming the health of their patients and our larger healthcare system. As osteopathic medical educators and leaders helping to train the country’s future physicians, we must do more to combat the mental health issues plaguing our healthcare workers, especially during such a stressful and critical period.”
S. 4349 would authorize Health Resources and Services Administration training grants for health professions students, residents, and professionals in evidence-informed strategies to mitigate suicide, burnout, substance use disorders, and other mental health conditions. Additionally, it would require a comprehensive study on mental and behavioral health and burnout, including measuring COVID-19’s impact on healthcare professionals’ mental health. Furthermore, the legislation would establish a national education and awareness campaign through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to encourage healthcare professionals to seek treatment.
“We applaud Senators Kaine, Young, Reed, and Cassidy for their leadership and look forward to working alongside them and other Members of Congress to move this bill forward,” added Dr. Cain. “By taking action now, we will be better equipped to respond to our current and future crises and contribute to a healthier, more resilient health care system.”