Zahourek, Tierney, Rohan & Bright: We’re RNs voting ‘no’ on Question 1. Here’s why.


Published: 10/23/2018 9:01:37 AM
We’re RNs voting ‘no’ on Question 1. Here’s why:

As registered nurses with 50-plus years of practice each, we are saddened and worried by the divisive controversy over Question 1. Information has been contradictory and confusing to nurses, health care providers and the public. The issue of safe staffing is endemic and real, but this proposed bill is a bad solution. Concerned about the bill’s rigidity, we are advocating a NO vote because:

1. The staffing ratios do not account for potential rapid census changes.

2. Rigid ratios do not account for the needs for varying skill levels of nurses on a particular unit at a particular time.

3. This bill diminishes nurses’ professional decision making.

4. Complying with the prescribed ratios may require an increased number of foreign and per diem nurses who may not be as prepared or skilled to meet the demands of a particular skill set for a unit.

5. It is predicted that passage of this bill will financially hurt community hospitals and community programs and siphon off qualified nurses to staff hospitals.

6. The exploration of other options such as shared governance and committee based determination of safe staffing will be tabled and/or ignored.

7. There are no studies that determine how many nurses are needed on a specific unit to provide safe care.

We applaud the Mass Nurses Association for addressing nurses’ capacity to control staffing ratios and their dedication and political activism to solve a problem that most of us has experienced either as a patient, family or provider. We all agree nurses, chosen every year as the most trusted profession, are overworked often caring for too many patients, but voting yes on this bill will not help the problem or support nurses in the long term.

In reviewing the bill, the American Nurses Association (the professional organization) white paper on safe staffing, the literature from Mass Nurses Association (the union) and the Coalition for Safe Staffing, we conclude that the nurse staffing problem is pervasive and needing legislation to ensure safe patient care. However, we think this is not the bill to solve the problem. A more realistic alternative must be sought through the joining of all the nursing groups to find time sensitive cost effective solutions. After much soul searching and analyzing the information from both sides, we advocate for increased support of nurses through devising such a more realistic plan and voting NO on question 1.

Rorry Zahourek, RN

Rachel Tierney, RN
South Hadley

Marie Rohan, RN
South Hadley

Mary Anne Bright, RN

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