British Columbia

B.C. nurses warned against using professional titles when protesting COVID-19 health orders

The B.C. College of Nurses and Midwives is warning its registrants against using their professional titles when organizing or taking part in opposition to COVID-19 public health orders.

The warning comes from the college, as nurses on unpaid leave due to vax status open private clinics

The professional college that oversees nurses in B.C. has warned its registrants against taking part in any sort of activity that may undermine the province's COVID-19 public health orders. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

The B.C. College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM) is warning its registrants against using their professional titles when organizing or taking part in opposition to COVID-19 public health orders.

The new warning comes as a fledgling movement to create private wellness clinics in B.C. hit an obstacle on Tuesday.

An Ezra Wellness clinic in Kamloops operated by nurses who were put on unpaid leave as a result of their vaccination status was shut down by the building's landlord, just days after it opened its doors, over a leasing dispute.

Ezra means help, aid or protect in Hebrew.

The college issued the warning partly as a result of the clinics being opened by unvaccinated nurses, a spokesperson said, as well as the broader spread of COVID-19 misinformation by regulated health professionals.

As of Tuesday, the provincial death toll from COVID-19 stood at 2,186 people.

"There have been numerous media reports over the past days and weeks regarding activities of BCCNM registrants who participate, organize, or agitate against public he​alth orders in place to deal with COVID-19," the college said in a statement.

"We want to assure registrants and the public that we are working with our partners in the health-care system, including the Ministry of Health and are taking steps to address such reports," it said. 

The Ministry of Health reported on Monday that more than 3,300 health-care workers are now on unpaid leave because they were not immunized by the Oct. 26 deadline for mandatory vaccination.

That accounts for 2.6 per cent of health-care workers in the province. In the Interior Health region, five per cent of health-care workers are on unpaid leave for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

That's the region that's seeing the emergence of the Ezra Wellness movement.

Ezra Wellness

A woman named Svetlana Dalla Lana claims on Facebook to be the founder of Ezra Wellness. She has her occupation listed as NURZ and has opened a clinic in Grand Forks.

There are Facebook groups for Ezra Wellness centres in Castlegar and Vernon, though it's not clear that they've established clinics in those communities.

In Kamloops, the centre opened its doors Oct. 26, but it didn't have a business licence and restricted its activity to chatting with people who came in.

"We will not have our licences. We will not be allowed to call ourselves nurses and we won't be allowed to nurse," said Glenn Aalderink, who describes himself as the Ezra Kamloops lead.

Glenn Aalderink with Ezra Wellness Kamloops, says his group will have to find a new location, after the landlord objected to a sublease arrangement he hadn't approved. (Jenifer Norwell/CBC)

"I've accepted it. I've mourned over the fact that I won't be allowed to call myself a nurse anymore," said Aalderink, who said he will consider himself a "wellness advocate and counsellor."

Kamloops location closed

On Tuesday, the landlord of the building in North Kamloops where the group had established itself shut the facility down, saying in a statement that it had entered into a sublease arrangement that he hadn't approved.  

"It's a little disheartening," said Aalderink. "We're going to have to be finding a new home."

Aalderink, along with two members of his group he calls "former nurses," plans to avoid anything like diagnosing and prescribing medication. He said they'll administer "simple, little old-style therapies or relief that isn't pharmaceutical in nature."

Under the Health Professions Act in B.C., BCCNM can investigate registrants whose conduct may be in breach of the college's Professional and Practice Standards.

If they're determined to be in breach, the college's Inquiry Committee can order conditions, remedial education or licence suspension or revocation.

In its advisory issued on Tuesday, the college lists the professional titles it's responsible for protecting, including nurse, registered nurse, registered psychiatric nurse, licensed practical nurse, nurse practitioner, midwife, and registered midwife.

The B.C. Nurses Union declined to comment on either the college's advisory or the Ezra Wellness clinics.

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