Nurse suspended after talking to media

A nurse who works at Charlottetown's Prince Edward Home has been suspended from her job after she spoke to the CBC.

RN Beth Nichol suspended for three months after commenting on storm preparedness

Health PEI says it does not comment on specific cases, including the suspension of registered nurse Beth Nichol. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

A nurse who works at Charlottetown's Prince Edward Home has been suspended from her job after she spoke to the CBC.

The Prince Edward Home is a 120-bed nursing care facility, which provides 24-hour nurse supervision. It currently has six vacant registered nurse positions, but earlier this month management handed RN Beth Nichol, who has worked there for 23 years, a three-month suspension.

All she did was speak about the truth.- Prince Edward Home employee

Nichol is technically retired but was still working full time due to the shortage. Her employer, Health PEI, won't talk about any specific cases and didn't say why she was suspended, but CBC News has been told by multiple sources that Nichol has been suspended for speaking to the media.

Nichol did an interview with CBC News in March. At the time the province was suffering through what would turn out to be the snowiest winter on record. The multiple storms were putting a strain on many workers who had to cover for others who couldn't get to work. At the Prince Edward Home in particular, staff was sometimes working double and triple shifts.

'Respect the policies and protocol'

Nichol felt management could have done a better job of preparing for storms.

"In 23 years I have never seen a storm go over well, in that the facility is actually prepared, or that administration have done anything to help out the staff," she said at the time.
Health Minister Doug Currie says there is an understanding that employees shouldn't speak with the media without connecting with communications staff first. (CBC)

Sources tell CBC News Nichol was suspended because she made that public statement. Two other staff members have called and emailed expressing their frustration that Nichol has been reprimanded.

"They didn't offer her any shifts for two months, threatening to fire her for speaking out … Now they just announced last week they're suspending her for three months. All she did was speak about the truth," one wrote in an email.

But P.E.I.'s Health Minister Doug Currie says it's not that simple.

Currie isn't clear on whether there are written policies on employees speaking to media, but he says there is an understanding that they shouldn't do so without connecting first with communications staff.

"We reiterate that we want to encourage staff to channel their concerns and respect the policies and the protocol that's in place."

Union encourages talking to representatives

Mona O'Shea, president of the P.E.I. Nurses' Union, says the union encourages members to make comments regarding the workplace through union representatives. (CBC)
The P.E.I. Nurses' Union also will not comment on specific cases, but president Mona O'Shea said it encourages its members to take any issues they have to the union, and to let it do the talking.

"We just want to caution our membership with respect to any conflict of interest they may have speaking positively or negatively about their employer."

CBC News contacted Nichol for comment, but given that she has already been reprimanded for speaking to the media, she declined to say anything else.


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