Editor’s Note: The Editorial Board of The Citizen Chronicle does not take a specific position on Question 1. The statements below are provided by Harrington Healthcare and reflect their position on the November ballot question on mandated nurse staffing ratios.
“Government-mandated nurse staffing ratios will cause hospital $5 million loss”
BOSTON, MA – Harrington HealthCare System 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.
“Harrington is proud to deliver safe and quality care to those in our community,” said Jessica Calcidise, Vice President of Nursing and Ancillary Operations at Harrington HealthCare System. “The government has no place in implementing cookie-cutter care across all of patients, all of our departments, and all our hospitals across Massachusetts. From our nurses to our doctors, our anesthesiologists and support staff, we already make the best decisions for our patients every minute of every day—we don’t need a blanket mandate telling us how we should be delivering care.”
The enormous costs associated with the nurse staffing ballot question will cost Harrington Hospital approximately $5.2 million, resulting in possible bed closures and cuts to critical health programs, including cancer screenings, substance use treatments, mental health services and domestic violence prevention programs.
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 community hospitals, and result in the closure of programs and services, impacting access to care. Emergency department wait times will increase dramatically as the hospital struggles to comply with the rigid ratios.
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.
“As a nurse, I find the inflexibility of these proposed ratios so dangerous,” said Tracy DiGregorio, RN, an 18-year veteran nurse at Harrington. “These numbers will not change with patients’ conditions, will not change based on the nurse and their experience, and will not change for emergency situations that we can’t plan for. I have the training and experience to make these decisions so the government — or anyone else for that matter — doesn’t have to.”
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.”
Harrington HealthCare System is a comprehensive regional healthcare system serving more than 25 communities across south central Massachusetts and northeastern Connecticut. The system includes Harrington Hospital in Southbridge, Harrington HealthCare at Webster and three additional major medical office buildings: Harrington HealthCare at Charlton, Harrington HealthCare at 169, also in Charlton, and Harrington HealthCare at Spencer; Harrington Physician Services, our primary care and multi-specialty physician group; UrgentCare Express at Harrington in Charlton and Oxford; The Cancer Center at Harrington in Southbridge, and the region’s largest Behavioral Health programs for mental health and substance use.