Senate Passes ENA-Supported Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act
February 18, 2022 • Advocacy Emergency Nurses Association Healthy Work Environment
ENA legislative priority focuses on improving health care worker mental health and well-being
SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (Feb. 18, 2022) – The COVID-19 pandemic has put unprecedented stress on emergency nurses and other health care providers, testing their resiliency and taking a toll on their collective mental health and well-being.
On Thursday, with clear bipartisan support, the Senate passed the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act which will earmark much-needed funding to help nurses, physicians and other health care workers overwhelmed by caring for patients during nearly two years of the pandemic’s relentlessness.
The bill’s provisions include, among other things: establishing grants for training health care professionals on ways to reduce and prevent suicide, burnout, substance abuse and other mental health conditions; grant funding for employee education, peer support programming and behavioral health treatment; and creation of a national education and awareness campaign focused on encouraging health care workers to seek support and treatment.
“When you see statistics indicating nurses die by suicide at a considerably higher rate than non-nurses, you quickly realize the critical importance and timing of this legislation,” said ENA President Jennifer Schmitz, MSN, EMT-P, CEN, CPEN, CNML, FNP-C, NE-BC. “Our country’s mental health crisis has only worsened during the pandemic, and emergency nurses can certainly attest to the stress, fatigue and burnout they’ve experienced.
“Passage of the Dr. Lorna Breen Act will deliver help to health care workers, ultimately saving lives and preserving their ability to provide the best care possible to patients,” Schmitz added.
ENA praised the efforts of Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Rep. Susan Wild, D-Pa., for introducing the bill in the Senate and House of Representatives, respectively. The House passed the bill in December. During ENA’s virtual advocacy event in May 2021, Kaine spoke emotionally to ENA members about sponsoring this important legislation as a way to help health care workers at a time they need it most.
The bill now goes to President Biden to be signed into law.