Unvaccinated nurses all over the province are no longer permitted to work for British Columbia health authorities.
Kamloops nurses who did not receive the COVID-19 vaccine are using their job loss as an opportunity to start up Ezra Wellness on Tranquille Road.
“We’re not being allowed to help. We were told we weren’t wanted, we weren’t needed — and yet, we know we are,” said team lead Glenn Aalderink.
Ezra Wellness is still developing its platform, but the clinic says it hopes to ease some of the strain on emergency rooms by assessing patients and offering guidance.
It will operate as a private clinic and, as of right now, services are free and nurses are volunteering.
“I saw that there was going to be a need for those of us who choose not to follow the official mandates — to seek their own health care,” Aalderink said.
Unvaccinated or vaccinated, Aalderink says everyone is welcome at Ezra Wellness. He says the goal was to create a safe space for unvaccinated people to receive health care.
In an email to CFJC News, Interior Health says its services are also available to everyone.
“We are committed to supporting all patients, residents and clients regardless of vaccination status. The vaccine mandates are specific to health care works to keep all the people we serve safe,” the Health Authority said.
Aalderink says the unvaccinated nurses are heartbroken.
“We’re here because we want to be. What we have is an overpowering desire, calling, to help our fellow humans,” he said.
Aalderink says walking away from health care was hard, but he stands by his decision — and he’s excited about his new venture.
“I know I’m risking catching COVID. I know that I won’t have whatever protection this injection gives you. But I’ve weighed the risks for myself and I am satisfied with my decision,” he added.