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Baystate Franklin on record against Question 1

  • Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield. File photo



Staff Writer
Thursday, October 11, 2018

GREENFIELD — Less than a month before the November election, Baystate Franklin Medical Center has formally announced its opposition to ballot Question 1, which would mandate nurse staffing in hospitals across the state.

The ballot question has been pushed by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, and has been firmly opposed by the Massachusetts Hospital Association, which is headed by its newly elected Chairman Mark Keroack, the president and CEO of Baystate Health, the Franklin’s Springfield-based parent group. 

Question 1 is supported by the nurses union, which is in favor of staffing ratios that can legally limit the number of patients a nurse can oversee at a time. Hospital executives have opposed it, often saying it will not provide the desired outcomes and ultimately cost more than it’s worth. 

If passed, Question 1 would “dramatically increase emergency room wait times and delay life-saving services in the hospitals across the state,” asserts a press release sent out by Baystate Franklin Medical Center Wednesday. The “mandated nurse staffing ratios” would have a “devastating impact,” it said.

Baystate Franklin estimates the ballot initiative would cause the Greenfield hospital to treat 40 percent fewer emergency visits, which works out to about 28 patients a day not having access to emergency services or experiencing extensive delays in the waiting room. 

The Committee to Ensure Safe Patient Care, which drafted the ballot question, rebutted the hospital assertions. 

“This isn't news,” spokeswoman Kate Norton said in a statement. “Baystate has been opposed to this from the outset, and have shown that through their wallets and the questionable leadership of Baystate CEO Mark Keroack, who is also the Chairman of the Massachusetts Hospital Association, which has put $7.2M towards the ‘no’ campaign.” 

When reached for a comment, the Massachusetts Nurses Association recommended speaking with the Committee to Ensure Safe Patient Care. 

The ballot question has raised the issue of how much the higher staffing would cost hospitals – and by extension patients and their insurance plans. Both sides differ widely on the estimate. Last month, the hospital said it will cost it $3.3 million annually, while a study by Boston College, touted by the nurses union, said Baystate Franklin Medical Center was one of nine hospitals that wouldn’t see any additional costs. 

The nurses union in Greenfield worked out a new contract with the hospital this summer. At times, the rhetoric from both sides touched on the pending ballot initiative, months before wall-to-wall campaign commercials. 

You can reach Joshua Solomon at:

joslomon@recorder.com

413-772-0261, ext. 264