Listen to nurses

Published: 6/6/2018 2:37:56 PM

I have serious concerns about a ballot issue that is being pushed by the Massachusetts Nursing Association. From what I can discern from my research, this initiative is going to cause great financial hardship and consequences, especially for hospitals in small, rural areas such as Franklin County.

We have very few options for medical care as it is. I would hate to see any community health facilities close. I am pro-union, a longtime member of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, but I feel that the MNA has this wrong. If you have been following the tactics employed by the local MNA group, you can see that they are applying heavy-handed, divisive tactics to cajole people into their way of thinking. It is not possible to fix any problems in medical care with a one-size-fits-all solution.

I’m including this link,, which has some facts and data that need to be considered more completely. The Nurses Say No group does not have the money that affords them the political clout that the MNA has. The MNA represents about a quarter of the state’s nurses, but has national resources behind them as they seek approval of this policy in Massachusetts. If Massachusetts were to do so, we would be only the second state in the country joining California. California adopted patient-staff ratios about 10 to 15 years ago. California does not report positive findings from having implemented this policy. It does, however, report that there are clearly increased “bottlenecks” in emergency rooms.

Amanda Stefancyk Oberlies, CEO of the Organization of Nurse Leaders, stated, “Make no mistake: this proposal threatens the high quality of care we provide patients. It will force many hospitals to reduce critical services and will dramatically increase emergency room wait times. This measure will prevent nurses and doctors from being able to use their best judgment in times of crisis.”

This is a controversial issue which has been floating around the Massachusetts Statehouse for years. The Legislature has been unwilling to pass such highly regulated limits into law. In our community, it will evoke serious, emotional debate requiring the public to sort out complicated medical and economic questions.

I know some fabulous nurses in some fabulous medical facilities that do not stand with the MNA and deserve to have their voices heard. According to the analysis by the Mass. Hospital Association, a number of community hospitals would close and others would have to change their services significantly because of cost and because there would not be enough nurses to meet the obligation under the new law.

The facts are out there. You just have to look harder for them when the reporting agencies are not part of the political machine. Here is one last link:

Do your homework, says the teacher in me. Most importantly, listen to what the other nurses are saying.

Amy Bernard



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