A Prince Albert nurse who criticized the quality of care at her grandfather’s long-term care home has been ordered to pay $26,000 in fines and legal costs.
But nurses from across the country have come together to support her, setting up an online funding campaign to help her pay what they call an “outrageous” penalty.
Carolyn Strom was found guilty of professional misconduct last October. The case stemmed from a 2015 Facebook post, where she criticized staff at a long-term care home in Macklin, where her grandfather was residing. In the post, and in subsequent messages, she said he was receiving “subpar” care and that staff at the facility were not “up to speed.”
Staff there complained about her comments, and the case eventually came before the disciplinary committee of the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association. The body ruled against her, and then published its penalty decision on April 4.
They chose to impose a $1,000 fine, but tacked on $25,000 in legal costs. The committee said that’s only about a sixth of the total expense of two years of legal proceedings.
Strom will also have to write a “self-reflective essay” about nursing ethics and professional standards, and complete an on-line learning module.
Just a day after the penalty decision, nurses in Eastern Canada started a gofundme campaign to help Strom cover her expenses. Quebec nurse Natalie Stake-Doucet was one of them. Within two days, colleagues and supporters from all over Canada donated more than $3,100 – over ten per cent of their target.
“We’re united in the feeling of shock that we got when we heard that this professional trial was happening,” Stake-Doucet said. “When the decision came down that she was found guilty of professional misconduct, that was quite disturbing.”
Strom said she’s grateful for the support.
“Obviously we are disappointed with the SRNA’s decision,” she told the Daily Herald. “I’m incredibly grateful to the people who have been supportive to me and my family. That is what has gotten me through all of this so far.”
A link to the gofundme campaign: https://www.gofundme.com/support-nurses-right-to-speak-out
For more on this story, see the April 8-10 weekend edition of the Prince Albert Daily Herald.