Regulator to prosecute 2 nurses from Ont. who traveled to D.C. COVID scam conspiracy promotion rally.
Kristen Nagle and Sarah Choujounian are being prosecuted by the Ontario College of Nurses
The Ontario nursing regulator says it is investigating two nurses who flew to Washington, D.C. last week to attend a rally by a group of their colleagues who made false, conspiratorial allegations about "COVID fraud" and the alleged involvement of hospitals in misrepresenting the coronavirus pandemic.
Last week, amid current public health directives, Kristen Nagle, a neonatal ICU nurse from London, Ont., and Sarah Choujounian, a licensed practical nurse from Toronto, traveled to the United States to avoid any non-essential travel in order to help reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The Ontario College of Nurses reported that the two nurses who engaged in events protesting public health policies against COVID-19 in Canada were already under investigation and said that they were aware of their recent trip to D.C. Organized by Global Frontline Nurses, to attend an event (GFN).
Members of the community say that hospitals around the world misreport cases of the virus and unnecessarily put patients on ventilators and diagnose people with COVID-19 to gain money from the crisis.
"I can advise that CNO is investigating these members and that we are aware of the information indicated,"I can advise that the CNO is investigating these members and that we are aware of the information indicated.
Smith said regulations forbid information on the status of the investigation from being issued by the college.
'That is surprising'
The views advocated by Global Frontline Nurses are called "pure conspiracy theory." by Doris Grinspun, CEO of the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario.
"It's damaging because what people need is factual information," Grinspun, who has lodged a complaint with the college against Nagle over her past actions, said in an interview.
"When you hear this from one of your own, and in this case, two of our own, one RN and one RPN, it's shocking."
On Jan. 6 hours before thousands of supporters of the U.S., GFN representatives assembled on the steps of Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. President Donald Trump went down to the Capitol to try to avoid certifying the results of the presidential election by aggressively overwhelming the police and storming the house.
The goal was to "share insight about COVID fraud and corruption inside hospitals." according to a press release released ahead of the GFN case.
Attended previous events with anti-mask
At a time when the US-Canada border is supposed to be closed to all non-essential travel, Nagle and Choujounian have drawn American media attention for attending the GFN gathering.
The two nurses are no strangers to controversy in public. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they were both active in protests against wearing masks and government-mandated lockdowns.
Nagle, who works at the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) as a neonatal nurse, was one of the organizers of a Victoria Park anti-mask rally in November that culminated in a number of charges being brought under the Reopening Ontario Act.
Nagle has been put under investigation by the college and her employer after that rally. A LHSC spokesperson said she would stay on unpaid leave awaiting the outcome of the investigation of the hospital network.
In an email to CBC News, Erinor Jacob-Levine confirmed that LHSC was aware of Nagle's trip south of the border.
"We want to assure our community that we take this situation and the new events that have come to light very seriously," Jacob-Levine said.
"While we are not able to address the specifics of an internal investigation due to privacy, safeguarding the health of our patients and their families, staff and physicians is of the utmost importance and remains our top priority."
The nurse from Toronto claims she was fired from the nursing home
Choujounian is now, according to the Ontario College of Nurses, working for S.R.T. MedStaff. In the Greater Toronto Area, the firm describes itself as "a leading provider of nursing and personal support services to over 30 hospitals in the Greater Toronto Area."
In an email, Carolyn Acton, vice-president of patient care and operations at S.R.T. MedStaff, said that because of privacy concerns, the organization could not discuss Choujounian's travels.
However, she said measures are in place to prevent patients from being approached by workers who have travelled outside the country.
Acton wrote, "Currently, any staff who has travelled outside of Canada is required to self-isolate for 14 days and to contact Public Health," "At the end of the 14 day isolation period, we re-screen staff and also require that they are cleared by Public Health prior to being reinstated for work."
A YouTube video shows Choujounian telling a crowd at an anti-lockdown rally in Toronto in November that she was fired for "speaking the truth" and expressing her views on the pandemic online from her job at Norfinch Care Group, a nursing home in the North York neighborhood of Toronto.
On Monday, Sienna Senior Living, the company that owns the Norfinch Care Community, confirmed to CBC News that Choujounian is "no longer an employee" at the nursing home, but, for privacy reasons, would not provide further information.
Death threats and harassment facing nurses: GFNN
Jeff Louderback, a spokesperson for Global Frontline Nurses, confirmed the two Canadian nurses attended the Jan. 6 event but told CBC News via text message that Nagle and Choujounian were "not available for interviews" because they have been subject to "death threats and harassment."
Attempts were also made, but were unsuccessful, to reach Nagle via her social media accounts and through her brother on social media.
On social media, the nurses recorded their trip and the GFN incident.
In one video posted on Nagle's Instagram account last week, they were seen together with other GFN members. Following media coverage about the journey, the video was made secretly, but was seen by CBC News when it was still public.
Nagle and Choujounian are seen in the video with at least five other people inside what appears to be a hotel room, none of whom are wearing masks.
They remember attending a Trump rally held south of the White House last Wednesday before some of the supporters traveled to the Capitol.
"I keep getting messages wondering if we're OK. We are all safe," Nagle says in the video before handing her phone to Choujounian, who talks about holding a pro-Trump flag because she was dressed all in black for fear of being mistaken for a member of the far-left organization Antifa.
As a result, conspiracy theories have spread alongside the virus. And for companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter, longstanding questions about how they should handle misinformation on their platforms have never been more relevant.