CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Carolyn Strom set up a gofundme.com page to help pay her legal bills. The page was actually set up by nurses in Ontario and Quebec. The Daily Herald apologizes for the error.
A Prince Albert nurse who was hit with a professional misconduct violation and a fine for a Facebook post she made three years ago will have to wait a little bit longer to find out if her appeal was successful.
On Thursday, Carolyn Strom and her lawyer, Marcus Davies, argued their case before the Court of Queen’s Bench in Saskatoon, with support from other organizations, including the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN) and British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA).
Speaking by phone on Friday, Strom said it’s been an emotional and stressful three years, but she’s grateful that the end is in sight, and for the support from other nurses across Canada.
“The amount of messages that I’ve received from health care workers has been really amazing and I didn’t expect that,” she said. “Knowing the SNRA (Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association) was considering that I had done something wrong, it was nurses who made me most fearful of their judgment.”
Strom continued to stand behind the views she expressed in her original Facebook post, where she criticized the poor care her grandfather received at a long-term care facility in Saskatchewan. However, she is still concerned about the affect this case could have on other nurses if the ruling goes against her.
“I feel pretty awful knowing that what I said three years ago, even though what I said was true, started this train of events that ended up (in court),” she said. “That was never my intent, so it does worry me. It’s pretty crushing.”
So far the presiding judge has not set a date for the final verdict. Strom said she’s expecting months to pass before her fate is decided, and in the meantime she will just try to move on with her life.
Since her post, she’s had numerous conversations with friends, family members and a surprisingly large number of complete strangers about her comments. She views that discussion, on personal care and how health professionals should speak about each other, as the silver lining to what has otherwise been a stressful time in her life.
“Lots of people have important things to say, and who this ultimately affects is our loved ones in care, whether it is long-term care or whether it is other venues of health care. If people aren’t allowed to have an opinion that they either come to by their own personal education or their own experience, that’s a perspective that’s going to be missed and it’s the people in care who will lose.”
Strom was originally fined $1,000 and forced to pay $25,000 in legal expenses by the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association for her Facebook post. In 2017 a group of nurses in Ontario and Quebec set up a gofundme.com campaign, which raised $13,000 from 281 donors in six days to help pay her legal bills.
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