On Tuesday, November 6, Massachusetts residents will vote on ballot Question 1, a proposed law that would limit how many patients could be assigned to each registered nurse in Massachusetts hospitals. This will be devastating for behavioral and mental health facilities. Concerned by the negative impact that this proposed law would have on overall patient care, McLean staff are voicing their opposition to Question 1.
Jenn L. Hinde, LMHC-BC, CESP, Waverley Place
“I know the people I work with already have difficulty getting practitioners and providers that will accept their insurance, especially MassHealth or Medicaid. I have a big concern that this law will likely make that worse. Finally, bills will need to be paid, and cost-cutting measures would need to be implemented. Where will that leave you? Where will it leave the people we are dedicated to serve? Fewer services? Fewer providers? Longer waiting times when in crisis or experiencing an emergency is an unacceptable standard of care.”
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Scott Young, RN, Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder Inpatient Program
“As a taxpayer and resident of Massachusetts, I am greatly concerned about how this ballot question will affect our overall health care as well. We have some of the best hospitals in the nation, and we are putting many institutions at a substantial risk of having to limit the number of people they can serve or closing altogether, all while increasing the cost of operation for hospitals and cost of care for patients.”
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Frank Joseph, RN, McLean SouthEast Adult Psychiatric Inpatient Program
“I am a psychiatric nurse. I serve one of the most vulnerable and underserved populations in health care. A ‘yes’ vote on Question 1 will deprive thousands of people of the care they desperately need.”
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Linda M. Flaherty, RN, PMHCNS-BC, senior vice president, Patient Care Services
“Access to care would be affected by increased costs to patients. An independent study has projected that the staffing proposal would add more than $1 billion to Massachusetts health care costs in the first year alone. Health care consumers would have to help defray that massive increase through higher taxes, co-pays, and out-of-pocket spending. Passing Question 1 would have profound negative effects on our hospital’s ability to care for patients and their families. I plan to vote ‘no’ on Question 1.”
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Christopher A. Richard, BSN, RN, Alcohol, Drug, and Addiction Inpatient Program
“As a nurse who knows many other nurses in many different systems, I understand the stress and strain that understaffing causes. Mandated staffing levels may help a percentage of this problem, but it doesn’t solve everything. In fact, this ballot question will cause harm. Imagine a bus crash outside your local ER that happens in the middle of the shift. The previous shift has left the building, and there are insufficient personnel available to increase staffing in the ER. Where do the patients go? Can you imagine turning away patients because of the staffing law? We need to vote ‘no.’”
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Kelly A. Carlson, PhD, PMHNP-BC, Nursing Department
“I am concerned about small, more rural hospitals closing because of the mandated ratios. Although I do think that staffing needs should be addressed in some facilities, unfortunately, the referendum is worded rigidly as a one-size-fits-all approach.”
Maria T. Olivier, MSN, RN, Nursing Department
“Some call Question 1 ‘good for nurses.’ I don’t. I am a 39-year veteran of this profession. Staffing decisions are clinical decisions, and these decisions should be made by those with clinical training and experience. They are not bureaucratic decisions to be made at the state level. A ‘yes’ on Question 1 is a vote of non-confidence in nurses. A ‘yes’ on Question 1 denies the ability of nurses to advocate for themselves and their patients. I’ll vote ‘no’ on 1, because I have the utmost confidence in nurses. I hope you’ll join me.”
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