Letters

Dr. James J. O’Rourke: Understaffing at South Coast has prompted nurse exits

SouthCoast Today

In a recent Southcoast publication Keith Hovan (president & CEO of Southcoast Health) has made an impassioned case against Question 1 which sets safe limits on how many patients a nurse can care for.

Mr. Hovan, speaking as a nurse and CEO, states “this initiative is estimated to add $38 million annually to our already burdened budget and require the hiring of 255 additional nurses at Southcoast hospitals.”

Ironically, Mr. Hovan’s leadership has overseen a colossal operating loss of that very amount in 2017 — $38 million! While other hospitals in the state are posting profits, Southcoast’s bond rating has been downgraded from A3 to Baa1 by Moody’s Investors Service and witnessed a biblical exodus of talented, dedicated physicians and nurses.

As an anesthesiologist at Southcoast for 20 years, I had the pleasure of working with many nurses in obstetrics, ORs, recovery rooms, and med/surgical floors. Nurses often complained to me about limited staffing, mandated overtime and staying post-call after being up all night doing emergency cases. This understaffing has resulted in the loss of experienced nurses at our hospitals.

Mr. Hovan’s claims that this bill will require the hiring of 255 additional nurses is, in and of itself, an admission that the system understaffs nurses. In Massachusetts last year there were 2,000 formal complaints about staffing levels and 77 percent of nurses believe they are understaffed.

Studies have shown that tired, overworked nurses are less effective, decrease quality of care, increase medication errors, and result in longer hospitalizations.

While not perfect, this bill will set up guardrails for safe nursing ratios. It is unfortunate that collective bargaining with hospital administrators has failed and this issue has become a ballot question, one which the same administrators have spent over $17 million to defeat.

James J. O’Rourke, M.D.

Marion

Read the letter to the editor here.

Vote yes on Question 1: Nursing staffing

Recently, a letter was sent to the citizens of Attleboro regarding Ballot Question 1, Patient Safety Act.

Like so many letters from the ‘no campaign’ this letter was littered with exaggerations and false statements. One in particular read, “Could you imagine if Firefighters or Police Officers had ratios and couldn’t answer a call if they didn’t have exactly a set number of First Responders?”

In fact, there are ratios set both locally and nationally that apply to firefighter staffing, both on apparatus and ambulances. According to minimum staffing levels set by the National Fire Protection Association each engine company and each ladder company should be staffed with four firefighters, to include an additional company officer on each.

According to local Emergency Medical Services Operational Orders, ambulance-staffing levels require two firefighter-paramedics to provide patient care during transport to the hospital. In addition to local protocols, the Department of Public Health requires each ambulance maintain an adequate number of EMS personnel “at all times.” The definition of “adequate number” is than listed. As you can see, there are ratios set for firefighters when responding to every type of emergency in Attleboro and across the Commonwealth. Just like the nurses, first responders everywhere will always “answer the call” with or without “a set number.” Let’s make the nurses job safer and more efficient by meeting adequate staffing ratios and vote yes on Question 1 Patient Safety Act.

Paul Jacques

Attleboro

Question 1: ‘Change will happen either way’

Daily Hampshire Gazette: Re: the letter dated Oct. 23 (“Zahourek, Tierney, Rohan & Bright: We’re RNs voting ‘no’ on Question 1. Here’s why.”). My thoughts: I don’t think we disagree with their logic, but I disagree with their solution … wait for a different fix.

Why we support Question 1: The facts support a vote for nurse staffing minimums

Commonwealth Magazine: IF YOU BELIEVE in climate change, then voting yes on Question 1, which addresses patient care, patient safety, and case overload for hospital nurses, should be obvious. The issues are alike in two key ways. First, just as there’s a vast body of knowledge supporting strict limits on carbon production, there’s an overwhelming amount of research and data supporting strict limits on the number of patients one nurse should be caring for. Second, the same core strategy is deployed by the health care and fossil fuel industries to discount the problem and discredit the evidence supporting the solution: Confuse voters by “raising issues” then bombard the airwaves with lies.

Annette Pfannebecker: A ‘Yes’ on Question 1

Greenfield Recorder: Here is why I am voting “Yes” on Question 1. We have a chance to make our hospital experience safer by voting with the nurses. The hospital association has single-handedly funded the No on Question 1 campaign. They are trying to confuse people into voting against their own best interests. The hospital association is spending millions of dollars trying to deceive voters.

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