Partners HealthCare today warned against the negative impacts that mandated nurse staffing ratios could have on access to critical health care services. Question 1 threatens Partners’ hospitals capability to provide safe, quality care to patients across the state, particularly in the community and specialty hospital settings.

“The nursing profession is made up of some of the smartest, most compassionate individuals in health care and they make complicated and important decisions about patients care every day. This ballot initiative would replace the expertise of nurses and the rest of the clinical care team with rigid government mandates,” said Jeanette Ives Erickson, RN, Chair of the Partners HealthCare Chief Nursing Council and former Senior Vice President for Patient Care Services at Massachusetts General Hospital. “And, this ballot initiative will place an unprecedented amount of strain on the nursing workforce, which will severely limit access to behavioral health, psychiatry and rehabilitation services at institutions like McLean Hospital, Spaulding Rehabilitation and other distinguished organizations throughout Massachusetts. Our health care system is ranked among the tops in the nation by almost every measure and is relied upon by millions of patients and their families. This ballot question threatens to disrupt our system.”

The nursing profession is made up of some of the smartest, most compassionate individuals in health care and they make complicated and important decisions about patients care every day. This ballot initiative would replace the expertise of nurses and the rest of the clinical care team with rigid government mandates.

Jeanette Ives Erickson, RN Chair of the Partners HealthCare Chief Nursing Council and former Senior Vice President for Patient Care Services at Massachusetts General Hospital

The enormous costs associated with the nurse staffing ballot question will impact Partners HealthCare an estimated $140 million, which could potentially translate into bed closures that limit access to care for thousands of patients throughout Massachusetts seeking emergency, medical or mental health care. Specifically, the Partners HealthCare financial impacts associated with the implementation of Question 1 include:

  • Brigham & Women’s Hospital: $24.7 million
  • Brigham & Women’s Faulkner Hospital: $10.1 million
  • Cooley-Dickinson Hospital: $6.5 million
  • Massachusetts General Hospital: $34.1 million
  • Martha’s Vineyard Hospital: $2.6 million
  • Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary: $4.2 million
  • McLean Hospital: 10.8 million
  • Newton-Wellesley Hospital: $16.4 million
  • Nantucket Hospital: $2.6 million
  • North Shore Medical Center: $19.4 million
  • Spaulding Hospital for Continuing Care Cambridge: $3.5 million
  • Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Boston: $4.6 million
  • Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Cape Cod: $1.9 million

The ballot question would require that hospitals across the state, no matter their size or specific needs of their patients, to 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.

According to an independent study by MassInsight and BW Research Partners, Question 1 will cost Massachusetts’ health care system $1.3 billion in the first year, and $900 million every year thereafter. This cost will impact access to care in every hospital across the Commonwealth, but will hit community hospitals especially hard.

The ballot question is opposed by the American Nurses Association - Massachusetts, Emergency Nurses Association - Massachusetts Chapter, Organization of Nurse Leaders, Infusion Nurses Society, Massachusetts Association of Colleges of Nursing, Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses’ Greater Boston Chapter, the Western Massachusetts Nursing Collaborative, the Massachusetts College of Emergency Physicians, the Massachusetts Medical Society, the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association, the Massachusetts Council of Community Hospitals, the Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals, and other healthcare and business leaders across the state.

 “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.”