She lost her nursing job in March because she would not disclose her vaccination status.
Now — with a critical nursing shortage troubling the health-care system — Sharon-Rose Nyambiya is wondering why she cannot find work as a nurse again.
“I’m pretty much almost homeless now because I lost my job,” said Nyambiya, who worked at Trillium Health Partners until March.
“I have lost my home. I was living in a nice condo. I lost my car. It’s been rough.”
Nyambiya, who is currently staying with family, has been a nurse for six years and still has student loan debt from her studies.
She was pregnant with her toddler at the outset of the pandemic.
Nyambiya said watching nurses struggle in understaffed ICUs and ERs is frustrating because she is willing to return to help increase staffing and lessen the burden on her former colleagues.
But with hospital mandates in effect, she cannot.
“Life has been very stressful,” Nyambiya said.
The hospital that fired her — Trillium Health Partners — cited privacy, saying it “cannot comment on the personal health information of our staff, including their vaccination status.”
But it added, “To ensure the safety of our patients, people and the community we serve, all THP staff and professional staff were required to receive two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by October 20, 2021.”
The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) and the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) do not have figures showing how many nurses have lost their jobs for not abiding by vaccine mandates.
RNAO said welcoming back those who have been let go would not make a huge difference.
“We don’t see it as a solution,” said Doris Grinspun, RNAO.
“It may be the opposite. They may end up occupying our beds. Not only that but colleagues may leave because they will not want to put their families at risk.”
She also said such a move could jeopardize ill patients.
For months nurses have insisted revoking Bill 124 — which limits pay increase to 1% — would have a bigger impact on keeping and attracting nurses.
“The question isn’t why don’t we put those nurses back in play,” said Grinspun. “The solution is to have Bill 124 gone.”
Nyambiya said she no longer values the certificate of appreciation she received for working at the start of the pandemic.
But she is trying to rekindle her career.
“I’ve applied over 200 jobs,” she said. “All of them say you have to supply your vaccination status.”