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Leave Nurse-patient Staffing to the Professionals

September 25, 2018

I am a nurse who will vote “no” on Question 1. I’ve been a nurse for 20 years, 15 at the bedside, and five in leadership, where I now serve as director of medical-surgical nursing.

Today, we don’t have enough RNs in Massachusetts to fill the needed positions. We would have to direct patients away from their community hospitals, even though all hospitals would be struggling under this mandate. We would be forced to pull nurses from crucial providers such as behavioral health centers, nursing homes, and hospice. Those providers would suffer, which means patients would too. We wouldn’t have time to train nurses and ensure competency at the acute level.

I don’t agree with a standard med-surg ratio being in place 24/7. There are times when 1:4 nurse-patient care is needed, in which case we staff accordingly, but not every shift has the same activity, so not every shift needs the same ratio. There are times when a 1:4 ratio would be really unnecessary, and would be a frustrating misuse of resources.

There are already lengthy wait times, but Question 1 would gridlock the ED, creating a tense and volatile environment. That would be bad for patient safety and bad for nurse safety.

I, as well as my colleagues, take pride in the ability to adjust staffing based on clinical knowledge and the skillsets of the nurses I’m working with. We are educated clinicians using evidence-based strategies. I strongly feel that having that ability taken away would alter our profession for the worse.

Statements in the media make it seem like this is an issue of leadership versus staff; I strongly disagree. We are all in this together. Many staff nurses are opposed to this measure, but regardless of the outcome we are all going to keep working together.

I agree with safe staffing. I don’t agree with an unfounded law being government-mandated. Please join me in voting no on 1. Place trust in knowing that nurses know how to care for their patients.

KATE GREENE

MSN, RN, ON-C

Billerica

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