Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce Urges Restraint on Nurse Staffing Ratios

Joins the Coalition to Protect Patient Safety Opposing the Nurse Staffing Ballot Question

WORCESTER, MASS. – The Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce (Chamber) has joined the Coalition to Protect Patient Safety, the statewide group opposing the proposed Nurse Staffing Ballot Question.

The proposal, which is on track to appear on the November 2018 ballot, would set strict nurse staffing ratios at all hospitals across the commonwealth regardless of size or geographic region served. One of the key factors of concern for the Chamber, which represents thirty-five (35) communities in Central Massachusetts and Southern Worcester County, is that it would require our local hospitals, including rural community hospitals, to achieve the same staffing standards as hospitals in the City of Boston.

“We are fortunate to have world-class health care facilities here in Central Mass,” stated Timothy P. Murray, President and CEO of the Chamber. “With UMass Memorial Medical Center, Saint Vincent Hospital, and AdCare Hospital right here in Worcester, area residents do not have to go far to access quality health care. While perhaps well intentioned, these mandates will drive up health care costs for all hospitals as well as jeopardize the future of some of our community hospitals in Worcester County.”

A second, and major concern, for the Chamber should this proposed ballot question pass, would be closures at the community and regional hospitals and health care facilities. Not only would this equate to the loss of good paying jobs in those rural areas, but it creates longer distances for residents to travel to obtain the quality care they deserve.

“The ballot question, as it is worded, would create a financial strain on our region’s hospitals both large and small; and we fear some may close or significantly reduce the variety of services they offer,” Murray continued. “Further, it removes management rights from front line managers working in our hospitals and their ability to adapt to ongoing or instantaneous changes in the status of patients and patient levels, and fails to take into account issues such as weather and patient surges eliminating staffing flexibility.”

The Chamber recognizes the need to ensure quality care and saw the 2014 compromise to a similar ballot question, which established ratios in critical care units, as an appropriate resolution. However, this appears to be an attempt to go beyond the compromise that was reached in 2014 and expand its reach beyond the critical care units.

The Chamber joins the American Nurses Association Massachusetts, the Organization of Nurse Leaders, the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association, the Massachusetts Council of Community Hospitals, and the Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals in opposition to the rigid and inflexible ballot question.

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