Emerson Hospital Announces Devastating Impacts of Ballot Question 1

Government mandated nurse staffing ratios would cost the hospital $9.2m


CONCORD, MA — September 12, 2018 — Emerson Hospital today announced the negative impacts mandated nurse staffing ratios would have on its viability and capability to provide safe, quality care to patients across the region. Slated to be Question 1 on the ballot this November, these rigid staffing ratios will devastate community hospitals across Massachusetts, according to an independent study by MassInsight and BW Research Partners.

“At Emerson Hospital, our nurses are a trusted resource providing quality care to more than 300,000 individuals across 25 towns,” said Joyce Welsh, RN, MS, Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer at Emerson Hospital. “The mandated nurse staffing ratios included in Question 1 will undermine the professional judgement of our nurses and the trust our patients put in them to provide the quality of care that is expected from Emerson.”

Christine Schuster, RN, MBA, President and CEO of Emerson Hospital, explains, “The enormous costs associated with the nurse staffing ballot question will set Emerson Hospital back $9.2 million, and could result in major cuts to vital community health programs, such as the Emerson Hospital Youth Risk Behavior Survey and our free health screenings. In addition, Emergency Department wait times could increase dramatically as Emerson and other community hospitals struggle to comply with the rigid ratios.”

According to the aforementioned independent study, the rigid mandate will cost Massachusetts hospitals $1.3 billion in the first year, and $900 million every year thereafter. This cost will burden community hospitals, like Emerson, and ultimately be passed onto consumers in the form of higher health care costs.

The ballot question 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 at all times. 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 passed, this law would put the safety of our patients at risk,” said Joyce Welsh. “Mandated nurse staffing ratios would cause delays for life-saving procedures, or even worse, prevent hospitals from admitting patients altogether if the number of nurses on duty does not comply with the rigid mandate.”

The ballot question is opposed by the American Nurses Association - Massachusetts, Emergency Nurses Association - Massachusetts Chapter, Organization of Nurse Leaders, Infusion Nurses Society, Massachusetts Association of Colleges of Nursing, Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses’ Greater Boston Chapter, the Western Massachusetts Nursing Collaborative, the Massachusetts College of Emergency Physicians, the Massachusetts Medical Society, the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association, the Massachusetts Council of Community Hospitals, the Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals, and other healthcare and business leaders across the state.

“There are no scientific studies or reports that demonstrate the effectiveness of government mandated, one-size-fits-all nurse staffing ratios for improving quality of care, patient outcomes or professional nursing practice," said Donna Glynn, President of the American Nurses Association and a Nurse Scientist for the VA Boston Healthcare System. “In fact, no studies evaluating nurse staffing ratios reported a magic number as the single factor to affect patient outcomes or job satisfaction. This ballot question is ignoring scientific facts around what is best for nursing practices, decision making and quality patient care.”