In Honor of the Passage of this Historic Bill and Our Nation’s Healthcare Workers, National Geographic Documentary Films and HULU Make Filmmaker Matthew Heineman’s Award-winning Documentary THE FIRST WAVE Available on NatGeo.com/TheFirstWave and the ABC and National Geographic TV Apps for 48 Hours
Beginning at 5 P.M. EST on Friday, March 18
The Film is Currently Available to Hulu Subscribers
THE FIRST WAVE Impact Campaign Continues to Urge State Medical Boards to Remove Penalties and Barriers to Mental Healthcare for Healthcare Workers
LOS ANGELES and WASHINGTON, March 18, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Today, President Biden signed into law the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, a first-of-its-kind legislation that aims to reduce the stigma of seeking mental health assistance among health care professionals. Named after Dr. Lorna Breen, a New York City emergency room physician who tragically died by suicide in Spring 2020 after treating COVID-19 patients, the law marks a major step forward for the countless healthcare workers who have taken care of us for so long but without access to the care that they themselves might need.
“We want to take a moment with you to pause and let all those health care professionals know that we heard you, we see you and we are here to support you,” said Corey Feist, co-founder of the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation. “We owe each of you our deepest gratitude for all you’ve done for us and for this country.”
In recognition of the bill’s signing, National Geographic Documentary Films announced that Academy Award® nominated filmmaker Matthew Heineman’s THE FIRST WAVE will be made available on NatGeo.com/TheFirstWave and the ABC and National Geographic TV Apps for 48 Hours beginning at 5 P.M. EST on March 18. The film captures the first wave of the pandemic and gives audiences a feel for what the healthcare workforce in New York City experienced on the frontlines during those confusing and chaotic first few months of the virus.
“We are so proud to partner with the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes Foundation as they celebrate this historic win,” said Amanda Chen, Vice President of Social Impact at Participant. “We look forward to continuing our work together, bringing much-needed attention to the fact that clinicians in many states continue to face penalties for seeking mental health care.”
“We are thrilled to celebrate the news of the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act being signed into law. It is a fitting way to honor the courage, dedication, and resilience our frontline workers have exemplified during the past two challenging years,” said Carolyn Bernstein, EVP Scripted Content & Documentary Films. “THE FIRST WAVE gives audiences a glimpse into the lives of these heroic healthcare professionals and it is our great privilege to make the film more widely available for those who have yet to watch this extraordinary document of our time.”
Participant, which has partnered with the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation on its THE FIRST WAVE impact campaign, will continue the momentum to urge state medical boards to remove penalties to mental healthcare and eliminate workplace stigma and discrimination for physicians seeking help. Currently, dozens of US states have invasive questions regarding mental health on medical licensure applications, and a recent Medscape survey of 13,000 physicians found that 43 percent said the reason they had not sought help for burnout or depression was because they “don’t want to risk disclosure to the medical board.”
Participant also produced a special, two-part digital series as part of its ongoing “Meet A Participant” content on social media. The digital shorts feature a profile remembering the life of Dr. Lorna Breen and humanizing the mental health crisis among healthcare professionals, as well as a profile of Corey Feist, Lorna’s brother-in-law, diving into the motivations behind his advocacy in the face of tragedy. Click the below links to view each of the videos:
With exclusive access inside one of New York’s hardest hit hospital systems during the terrifying first four months of the pandemic, THE FIRST WAVE spotlights the healthcare workers at the epicenter of COVID-19 as they come together to fight one of the greatest threats the world has ever encountered. A chilling, necessary portrait of those on the front lines, the film is also further evidence of a healthcare workforce that is burnt out, stretched thin, and undersupported. The award-winning documentary, currently available on Hulu, will also have a special viewing window on NatGeo.com/TheFirstWave and the ABC and National Geographic TV apps for 48 hours starting on March 18 at 5 P.M. EST.
“I am so happy that the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act is being signed today,” said THE FIRST WAVE director Matthew Heineman. “While making THE FIRST WAVE, I witnessed first hand the incredible bravery and fortitude of frontline healthcare workers who risked their lives every day they went to work. After the mental, emotional, and physical strain from 2 years of battling this pandemic, they deserve our country’s unwavering gratitude and support.”
“I could not be more thrilled for my fellow medical professionals than to see Congress pass this important bill,” said THE FIRST WAVE film participant Dr. Nathalie Dougé. “No health care worker could have been prepared for the early stages of the pandemic. Nonetheless, we endured every challenge and obstacle as best we could. However, the detrimental effects of the mental strain during that time remain. I hope people honor us by taking this opportunity to understand what we had to endure and continue to endure.”
THE FIRST WAVE Impact Campaign has garnered support from a variety of collaborators who share a common interest in highlighting conversations around health equity through the lens of the problems facing frontline healthcare workers and their mental health, the disproportionate effects of COVID on communities of color, and what’s being done at various levels to address existing inequities. Leading up to the historic bill signing, Dr. Dougé participated in an Instagram Live chat with the U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and also sat down with ABC7’s Sandra Bookman to address the disparities in healthcare for those impacted by COVID-19 for ABC Owned Television Station’s Race & Culture special, OUR AMERICA: Health Equity & COVID.
THE FIRST WAVE is dedicated to the loyal, fierce, and empathetic advocate of documentaries, Diane Weyermann.
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