Why an unvaccinated former healthcare worker is hopeful she could get her job back

A former Grand River Hospital (GRH) employee is encouraged by an recent arbitrator’s ruling that nine Ontario nurses, who were fired because they didn’t get two COVID-19 vaccinations, should be reinstated.

Their termination was deemed unreasonable and “nurses intent on remaining unvaccinated are a small minority everywhere but their employee rights may not be ignored,” wrote Justice James Hayes, in his Feb. 28 decision.

Krista Ruddy was a medical lab technician who was originally placed on unpaid leave in 2021 after deciding not to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

She was eventually fired and was forced to find work elsewhere. She traded in her medical scrubs for a safety vest as she transitioned to more blue-collar work, unable to find a job in her field.

“I loved my job,” Ruddy told CTV News. “I applied to multiple hospitals, but as soon as I said that I wasn’t vaccinated, they said ‘OK, thank you so much for letting us know. Well-wishes on your journey.’”

But now there is renewed hope on that journey. While Ruddy is not a registered nurse, she was let go for reasons that are very similar to the group of Quinte Health nurses who were the subjects of the recent ruling.

“This opens the door for everyone. It’s not just the nurses, but this opens a huge door for everybody,” she said.

Ruddy’s arbitration isn’t until 2025, but she is hoping for a similar outcome. She said she wants to help out in any way, knowing hospitals across the province are understaffed. That was underscored after recently seeing her father suffer from a lack of care at an Ontario hospital before passing away.

“He wasn’t cared for. And I witnessed other people not being care for properly,” Ruddy said.

She adds she would go back to the field she loves if given the chance.

“Absolutely. Maybe not that hospital in particular, but I would go back to a hospital because that’s where I feel like I need to be.”

CTV News contacted GRH to ask how this decision may impact the hospital going forward and whether there are any concerns.

“This arbitration decision affects Quinte Health hospitals. Therefore, Grand River Hospital is not involved in this decision,” a hospital spokesperson said in a statement.

Ruddy feels the decision does involve every hospital and says help is needed across the board. It’s something she is focused on bringing back to the table.

“I can’t wait for the opportunity to go back.”

CTV News reached out to OPSEU, the union that represents medical lab professionals, like Ruddy. We also reached out to the Ontario Nurses’ Association. Neither responded before deadline.

With files from CTV National News


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