BID-Milton Opposes Ballot Question One On Nurse Staffing Ratios

Beth Israel Deaconess-Milton today announced its opposition to Ballot Question One, which would mandate rigid nurse staffing ratios throughout the state. Slated to be Question 1 on the ballot this November, these rigid staffing ratios will devastate community hospitals and behavioral health facilities across Massachusetts.

“Beth Israel Deaconess-Milton is proud to serve the South Shore and provide reliable, quality care for those in our communities but Question 1 puts that at risk,” said Richard Fernandez, president and CEO for BID-Milton. “The government has no place in implementing one-size-fits-all care for our patients, departments, and hospitals across Massachusetts. From our nurses to our doctors, our social workers and support staff, we make the best decisions for our patients at the bedside, with the ability to adapt as needed to patient need or crisis — a government mandate would strip our clinicians of that ability.”

The enormous costs associated with the nurse staffing ballot question will set Beth Israel Deaconess-Milton back approximately $4.7 million in the first year alone, resulting in possible closures and cuts to the vital emergency and hospital based services and screenings BID-Milton provides.  Patients and families could face delays or cancellations of surgeries and Emergency Department wait times would likely increase.

If passed, emergency department wait times would increase dramatically as hospitals struggles to comply with the rigid ratios -- waiting rooms will fill when each nurse is at their mandated patient number waiting to get a bed. According to an independent study by MassInsight and BW Research Partners, the state of Massachusetts will need to hire 5,911 new nurses within 37 days of the rigid mandate passing at a time when there is already a dire nurse shortage across the state.

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.

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.”