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Sales taxes, minimum wage, paid leave and nurse staffing headed toward 2018 ballot

Springfield Republican: A nurse’s union is advocating for a ballot question that would set a maximum number of patients that a single nurse could care for. The staffing ratio would vary depending on the unit. Angela Ortiz, a Woburn mother of a 4-year-old with complex medical needs, said she cannot leave her daughter alone in the hospital.

“The nurses are stretched so thin, and they are constantly pulled in more directions than is possibly manageable,” Ortiz said. “We have to stay there and be hyper-vigilant in overseeing her care so things don’t slip through the cracks.”

Harley Keisch, a critical care nurse at Berkshire Medical Center, said staffing in the ICU is set by law, but he previously worked on a surgical floor. Ten years ago, nurses took care of six patients who were pre- and post-operation. Now, he said, nurses have seven patients each. “What we thought would be completely unsafe is now the norm,” Keisch said.

Keisch said the ballot question would limit the time patients wait for pain medication, decrease unnecessary falls and ensure nurses take time to discharge patients properly.

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