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UMass Memorial Health System Announces Devastating Impacts Of Ballot Question One

Government mandated nurse staffing ratios would cost the health system $36 million

LEOMINSTER, MA – September 12, 2018 – UMass Memorial Health Care (UMass Memorial), which includes UMass Memorial Medical Center, UMass Memorial- Marlborough Hospital and UMass Memorial HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital announced the negative impacts mandated nurse staffing ratios would have on their viability and their capability to provide safe, quality care to patients across the region. Slated to be Question 1 on the ballot this November, these rigid staffing ratios will devastate community hospitals and behavioral health facilities across Massachusetts.

 “Mandated nurse staffing ratios would force our community hospitals to cut critical health programs, which will seriously limit access to care for our most vulnerable patients,” stated Deborah Weymouth, President and CEO of HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital. “It is so unfair to the rest of the healthcare team(s), all of whom work very hard every day to deliver quality care and service to our patients.”

The enormous costs associated with the nurse staffing ballot question will set UMass Memorial back $36 million, resulting in major cuts to community health programs, such as cancer screenings, opioid treatments, mental health services, domestic violence programs and pre- or post-natal care. Emergency department wait times will increase dramatically as the hospital struggles to comply with the rigid ratios. The cost to HealthAlliance-Clinton alone will be almost $9 million annually.

According to an independent study by MassInsight and BW Research Partners, the rigid mandate will cost Massachusetts hospitals $1.3 billion in the first year, and

$900 million every year thereafter.

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.

“Patient flow is best managed by nurses in the department and not that of government. We have a tough time moving patients out of the emergency room currently, never mind if there are further restrictions on us. This bill is going to do nothing but increase Emergency Department wait times due to government restrictions being placed on nurses,” said Eric Otterson, Physician Assistant, Emergency Department, HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital.

Audrey Lerner, an RN and charge nurse at the emergency department shared- “As a 20-year veteran nurse and more specifically an 11-year nurse of the local emergency room, voting NO is the only way to go.  I spent 5 years of my career traveling around the country and working in different hospitals, including in California, which has enabled me to experience many different practices in healthcare as well as ratios and patient flow. Nursing is a job where experience knowledge and understanding counts. I prefer those traits to a mandated one-size fits all approach to nursing.”

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.”