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NVCC Opposes Nurse Staffing Question

The Neponset Valley Chamber of Commerce, whose members include Norwood Hospital and Brigham and Women's/Mass General Health Center along with numerous eldercare centers, rehabilitation facilities, and doctor's offices, has joined the Coalition to Protect Patient Safety in opposition to the proposed nurse staffing ballot question.

After reviewing the ballot question and the anticipated impacts it would have on area medical facilities, patients and consumers, the Chamber board voted to oppose the question. There is also concern about legislating, by popular vote, what is essentially a human resources issue. The result being staffing levels being determined by government mandate in a one size fits all manner.

The ballot question, proposed by the Massachusetts nurses' union, which represents less than a quarter of nurses in the Commonwealth, would require that hospitals across the state, no matter their size or specific needs of their patients, adhere to the same rigid nurse staffing ratios within all patient care areas. The petition does not make allowances for rural or small community hospitals, holding them to the same staffing ratios as major Boston teaching hospitals.

If this were to pass, most hospitals, including Norwood Hospital, would experience vastly higher costs to deliver lifesaving care with no evidence that it would improve patient quality or outcomes. Conversely, these mandates may reduce the safety of patients who are in need of emergency or urgent care by forcing them to travel to hospitals outside of their own communities. Furthermore, the added expenses would prohibit hospitals from investing in new technology, equipment and staff.

This measure is projected to cost the Massachusetts healthcare system more than $1.3 billion in the first year, and more than $900 million each year thereafter, according to an independent study by MassInsight and BW Research Partners. Patients would feel it in the form of higher premiums, deductibles and taxes at a time when many Massachusetts families are already struggling to pay for health care. Hospitals will be forced to cut vital health programs, such as cancer screenings, opioid treatments, mental health services, early childhood intervention, domestic violence programs and pre- or post- natal care.

The Neponset Valley Chamber joins numerous other Chambers, the American Nurses Association Massachusetts, the Organization of Nurse Leaders, the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association, the Massachusetts Council of Community Hospitals, the Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals, and other health care leaders in protecting the state's healthcare system and its patients from the consequences of this rigid, costly mandate that will go before voters on November 6th.
Learn more about the Coalition to Protect Patient Safety at http://www.Facebook.com/ProtectPatientSafety and www.Twitter.com/MAPatientSafety.

Tom O'Rourke

President and CEO