Daily Hampshire Gazette: I have been a physician for over 40 years, and that accumulated experience tells me that good patient care depends on good nursing care. I fully support Question 1, the Patient Safety Act, because it gives nurses, the key players in our health system, adequate time and support to do their difficult jobs in the way they have been trained and gives patients the care they deserve.
Throughout my career, I have seen nurses expected to do the impossible: care for too many sick patients at one time to allow the attention needed to necessary patient examination, medication administration with dosage check, wound care, IV assessment and the provision of comfort and education to the frightened, hurting people in their charge. High-paid hospital executives in the state have done everything in their power to prevent effective collective bargaining by this essential sector of the health workforce, and now, when nurses have turned to the ballot box to legislate safety for their patients, they are met by millions of dollars’ worth of opposition propaganda from those same corporate executives.
Those millions have sown confusion among otherwise well-informed folks in the state:
1. “Nurses say NO”? The American Nurses Association referred to in the slick TV ads represents, in the main, nurse supervisors and administrators, not the floor and clinic nurses who do the bulk of patient care.
2. If the bill is passed and safe patient limits are instituted, patients will be turned away from emergency rooms? No, they won’t. In fact, the state of Massachusetts now has one of the longest emergency room wait times of any state in the country. California, which passed a similar bill 14 years ago, has wait times 47 percent shorter than in our Commonwealth, in part because those emergency rooms have enough nurses on hand to ensure quick triage and treatment.
3. Community hospitals are at risk of closing if Question 1 passes? No, they aren’t. Community hospitals depend on their ERs for admissions. If more patients can be cared for in the ER, more will be admitted to their local hospitals instead of being shipped off to larger medical centers.
If hospitals, instead of investing millions on confusing the public about Question 1, spent the same amount on recruiting and employing the nurses needed to provide quality care, it would be a huge step towards improving the patient experience and nursing retention in Massachusetts. Don’t let them confuse you. Vote “yes” on Question 1.