Sask. nurse stunned by fundraising response after $26K raised to pay fine

Nurse Carolyn Strom, from Prince Albert, Sask., says a national online fundraising campaign has left her completely amazed after enough money was raised to cover a fine she received for complaining about her grandfather's care in an internet post.

Earlier this year, Strom was fined $26,000 by the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses' Association after she was found guilty of professional misconduct. 

Strom posted on Facebook that staff caring for her grandfather weren't "up to speed" on palliative care or how to "help maintain an aging senior's dignity."

On Monday night, the campaign on GoFundMe reached its $26,000 goal to pay the nurse's fine.

"I really struggle to find the words to properly express my level of gratitude to everyone involved," Strom wrote to CBC News. "All of this sure helps to alleviate some of the isolation that this case has caused for me."

'I felt like jumping up and down'

Speaking to CBC Radio's Morning Edition, campaign organizer Natalie Stake-Doucet said she's just as amazed at the response as Strom.

"I felt like jumping up and down. It was a very pleasant surprise," said Stake-Doucet, a nurse currently enrolled in a PhD program at the University of Montreal.

"I really see this as a missed opportunity for the [nurses' association]," she said. "They could have really opened up a discussion about end-of-life care and not see this as a potential threat to themselves."

Stake-Doucet said that many of the campaign's donors shared their stories of what they felt was substandard care of elderly patients by the medical system.

"It's been really inspiring to read those stories, and to have people feel that they can open up and share their experiences," she said. 

Stake-Doucet said it's important that everyone in the health-care community be allowed to voice their opinions, even if those opinions can be seen as critical.

"Health-care professionals, at least from the research I've been reading, have a very hard time speaking up in general," she said. "And they aren't listened to at all, really. Proper channels, if they exist at all, can do more harm than good to the person that actually complains."

Nurse appealing decision

Strom is in the process of appealing the association's decision. If she's successful, the money raised will go to patient advocacy groups and Strom's legal bills.

Most of the fine is intended to refund the association for the cost of holding the hearing.

Strom will also have to write a self-reflective essay on what she did wrong, and how she will change her behaviour in the future.

She will also need to complete an online course on the Canadian Nurses Association's code of ethics.