Holyoke Medical Center today announced the negative impacts mandated nurse staffing ratios would have on their viability and their capability to provide safe, affordable, quality care to patients in the Pioneer Valley. Slated to be Question 1 on the ballot this November, these rigid staffing ratios will devastate community hospitals and behavioral health facilities across Massachusetts.
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“For the past five years, Holyoke Medical Center has strategically implemented new services and increased the number of providers in the Pioneer Valley to improve access and decrease barriers to healthcare in the community. The impacts of Question 1 will negate that progress,” said Spiros Hatiras, President and CEO of Holyoke Medical Center and Valley Health Systems. “As an independent, non-profit, community hospital, the financial impact to our organization will put us at great risk in continuing to provide the care our community demands.”
The costs associated with the nurse staffing ballot question will be enormous. It is anticipated to cost Holyoke Medical Center approximately $5.8 million. This by far exceeds the entire bottom line of Holyoke Medical Center and will likely result in bed closures and cuts to essential services.
In order to comply with the massive costs associated with the rigid ratios included in Question 1, patients will be forced to wait for beds to come available if every nurse is at their mandated number of patients. According to an independent study by MassInsight and BW Research Partners, Question 1 will cost Massachusetts’ health care system $1.3 billion in the first year, and $900 million every year thereafter. Initially, this cost will be passed on to hospitals, impacting access to care, increasing emergency room wait times, and putting the viability of the hospital at risk. Eventually, these costs will be a burden to every healthcare consumer in Massachusetts in the form of higher taxes and health insurance premiums.
The ballot question would require that hospitals across the state, no matter their size or specific needs of their patients, to adhere to the same rigid nurse staffing ratios within all patient care areas at all times.
“As a Labor and Delivery nurse serving our community for the last 20 years, I know how hard it is to predict or control when active labor patients will arrive on our doorstep. I fear this one-size-fits-all bill will negatively impact our ability to care for every patient that arrives on the unit,” said Megan Mayo, RN at Holyoke Medical Center. “Imagine having to turn away patients or tell them they will have to wait to be seen? This is not just about how many patients a nurse should be assigned. I care about the community we serve, which is why I will be voting no on ballot Question 1.”
The ballot question is opposed by the American Nurses Association - Massachusetts, Emergency Nurses Association - Massachusetts Chapter, Organization of Nurse Leaders, Infusion Nurses Society, Massachusetts Association of Colleges of Nursing, Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses’ Greater Boston Chapter, the Western Massachusetts Nursing Collaborative, the Massachusetts College of Emergency Physicians, the Massachusetts Medical Society, the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association, the Massachusetts Council of Community Hospitals, the Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals, and other healthcare and business leaders across the state.
“There are no scientific studies or reports that demonstrate the effectiveness of government mandated, one-size-fits-all nurse staffing ratio for improving quality of care, patient outcomes or professional nursing practice." said Donna Glynn, President of the American Nurses Association and a Nurse Scientist for the VA Boston Healthcare System. “In fact, no studies evaluating nurse staffing ratios reported a magic number as the single factor to affect patient outcomes or job satisfaction. This ballot question is ignoring scientific fact around what is best for nursing practice, decision making and quality patient care.”