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By Gary Evans, Medical Writer
Lynette Charity, MD, a board-certified physician and anesthesiologist, was on the ledge of a bridge ready to jump to her death. She measured the distance and the rate of fall in her mind, hoping she would hit a rock rather than drown.
That was 22 years ago. Today she is a public speaker and stand-up comic, using humor to address burnout and suicide prevention among healthcare workers.
“I tell people — spoiler alert — I didn’t kill myself,” she says.
Retired from medicine after a 41-year career, Charity had to halt her in-person public speaking and comedy gigs when the pandemic hit. Now she is trying to reach out to colleagues and others via telehealth to emphasize the need to remove stigma from mental health counseling for healthcare workers so they can get the care they need now more than ever.
“Now my job I feel is to just talk to people,” she says. “More importantly, to just listen. I have colleagues who have lost their practices. Who have been let go from hospitals in this time when we need personnel to be on the front lines. There are people out there firing doctors because they are speaking out about their stresses. You cannot be on the front line thinking before the next patient you see, ‘I’ve worn this PPE all week and it may not protect me. I could get COVID and I could die. Then who will take care of my family?’”
For more on this story, see the July 2020 issue of Hospital Employee Health.