Mass. Senior Care Association Opposes Nurse Staffing Ballot Question

Represents move than 400 facilities caring for over 120,000 seniors...

The Massachusetts Senior Care Association (MSCA), which represents more than 400 facilities providing healthcare services to more than 120,000 older adults and people with disabilities each year, today joined the Coalition to Protect Patient Safety in opposition to the proposed nurse staffing ballot question. Like many other non-hospital healthcare organizations, MSCA is gravely concerned that the ballot question would pull nurses from its facilities, which hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts residents have come to rely on.

The MSCA joins a growing number of nursing and healthcare organizations standing together to oppose rigid, government-mandated nurse staffing ratios backed by the Massachusetts nurses’ union.

“Direct care nursing staff are the vital backbone of our long-term care system, and even today we are in urgent need of additional nurses to ensure and meet the care needs of our seniors,” said Massachusetts Senior Care President Tara Gregorio. “We are extremely concerned that the proposed nurse staffing ballot question will decimate our already fragile long-term care system by recruiting away long-term care clinicians to meet the potential new hospital staffing mandates.”

Massachusetts Senior Care Association delivers a broad spectrum of services to meet the needs of older adults and people with disabilities across Massachusetts, and include nursing and rehabilitation facilities, assisted living residences, residential care facilities and continuing care retirement communities. The MSCA employs more than 77,000 staff members and contributes more than $4 billion annually to the Massachusetts economy.

The ballot question being proposed by the Massachusetts nurses’ union, which represents less than a quarter of nurses in the Commonwealth, would require that hospitals across the state, no matter their size or specific needs of their patients, adhere to the same rigid nurse staffing ratios within all patient care areas at all times. The petition does not make allowances for rural or small community hospitals, holding them to the same staffing ratios as major Boston teaching hospitals.

“There are no scientific studies or reports that demonstrate the effectiveness of government mandated, one-size-fits-all nurse staffing ratio for improving quality of care, patient outcomes or professional nursing practice." said Donna Glynn, President of the American Nurses Association and a Nurse Scientist for the VA Boston Healthcare System. “In fact, no studies evaluating nurse staffing ratios reported a magic number as the single factor to affect patient outcomes or job satisfaction. This ballot question is ignoring scientific fact around what is best for nursing practice, decision making and quality patient care.”

This measure would cost our health care more than $1.3 billion dollars in the first year, and $900 million each year thereafter, according to an independent study by MassInsight and BW Research Partners. Hospitals will be forced to cut vital health programs, such as cancer screenings, opioid treatments, mental health services, early childhood intervention, domestic violence programs and pre- or post- natal care.

The Massachusetts Senior Care Association joins the American Nurses Association Massachusetts, the Organization of Nurse Leaders, the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association, the Massachusetts Council of Community Hospitals, the Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals, and other healthcare and business leaders in protecting the state’s healthcare system and its patients from the consequences of this rigid, costly mandate that is expected to be placed before voters in the November 2018 election. 

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