Arlington Advocate: I am voting “Yes” on Question 1 because I listen to nurses. I believe in them, and I’ve made it my job to do so, having gone to work for the Mass. Nurses Association years ago. I listened to a nurse who was holding a hand written sign at a protest in front of her hospital. It wasn’t about pay. It was about unsafe patient care. It said: “I can safely take care of four patients at a time. You are number seven.”
I have read most of the 2,000+ (in 2018 alone) written reports of unsafe staffing in Massachusetts hospitals that RNs had the courage to write, sign and present to their managers. Each details a situation in which nurses considered their patients’ safety to be in immediate danger. I have read the responses of the managers: Repeated phrases such as, “Do the best you can,” “I’m aware,” “Got it,” and (literally) “Whatever.”
I have listened to executives say we should vote “no,” because decisions about staffing and clinical care are best left to them (and not to the judgement of nurses). I’ve sat in countless meetings while paternalistic execs angrily tell nurses that they don’t know what they are talking about, as though they’re hysterical women.
I have seen these same executives send guards and threaten to call the police when nurses with community leaders have tried to deliver petitions calling on them to adequately staff their hospitals.
I have seen nurses who will rush in and help their patient no matter what — whether they have the resources or they don’t. I’ve met Nina Pham, the Atlanta nurse who contracted Ebola caring for a dying patient, when the hospital didn’t give her or other members of her care team proper protective gear. And I’ve met thousands of other nurses who would have done the exact same thing.
I’ve heard nurses describe what they need to care for us. Health care executives are spending millions to create confusion, banking on a plan that confused voters will vote “no.” But Question 1 asks a simple question: Do I believe that if someone I love is in the hospital, they have better odds of getting out alive and well if their nurse is taking care of eight patients or four? I’ve listened, I’ve seen and I’ve read the data. I am voting “Yes.”
Dana Simon, Brantwood Road