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Published on September 12, 2018


Government mandated nurse staffing ratios would devastate community hospital

BOSTON, MA – September 12, 2018 – Mount Auburn Hospital today announced the negative impacts mandated nurse staffing ratios would have on their viability and their capability to provide safe, quality care to patients in 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.

At Mount Auburn, and across Massachusetts, we are leaders in delivering quality care to our patients,” said Deborah Baker, Vice President of Patient Services at Mount Auburn Hospital. “But Question 1 puts all of that at risk by instituting strict staffing mandates that leave us with a tough moral decision—do we treat a patient that needs it and swallow the $25,000 fine or do we start turning people away? This is not what Mount Auburn—or healthcare-- is about.”

This enormous cost and increase in spending could have a significant impact on programs in any number of clinical and administrative areas and may force bed closures or very difficult cuts in 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. This cost will be passed on to hospitals, impacting access to care, and increasing emergency room wait times.

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. The petition does not make allowances for rural or small community hospitals, holding them to the same staffing ratios as major Boston teaching hospitals.

Ballot question #1 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.”

Mount Auburn Hospital was founded in 1886. A teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, its mission is to deliver health care services in a personable, convenient and compassionate manner, with respect for the dignity of patients and their families.

Contact Kelly Hill, Director of Marketing and Communications, 617-499-5656


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