Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

RIP Lorna M. Breen, MD

The first time I met you I was so intimidated. A new ER nurse who felt like I knew nothing, working with the medical director of an ER that was part of a well-respected NYC teaching hospital. I was eager to learn, and you were imposing but patient in teaching me, never making me feel stupid because I didn’t know something. And there was so much I didn’t know. I came from a med-surg background, which I would soon learn has very little overlap with emergency medicine.

I’d always wanted to be an ER nurse, but right out of school it seemed crazy to go into that environment without some experience, so I worked for four years with stroke and traumatic brain injury patients before finally getting my first ER job – where I ended up staying for ten years.

I had the privilege to work with you as an ER doc and then as a friend. You were always there to listen, teach, and mentor me. When I became focused on implementing a new program for a nursing procedure in the ER, your support and guidance allowed me to start and eventually write a new hospital policy supporting this change, something I would never have been able to do without you. In fact, my whole grand idea came from a code I did with you where you asked me to do something and I didn’t know how to do it. I was determined not to let that happen again, and you patiently supported me as I struggled years to see it through. When I finally succeeded you just smiled as if you knew I’d get it done all along. I was never quite that sure, but you gave me confidence.

Your door was always open, and whenever I spoke you would look at me intently like whatever I was saying was the most important thing in the world. Invariably, within minutes whatever problem I was struggling with would be solved. You always seemed like the smartest person in the room.

I remember hanging out with you last year at our annual ER party, laughing and having cocktails on a boat we’d all rented to cruise around New York’s harbor. You seemed so happy to be with your crew, the nurses and all the rest of the staff who make our ER run. You were our boss and we wanted to make you proud.

You will always be in my heart, and I wish you knew how many lives you made better.

RIP my dear friend and esteemed colleague. You are gone but will never be forgotten. I wish I could tell you that as devastated as our ER was by the COVID pandemic, it would have been much worse without you at the helm.

With much love and respect.