Patient Portal


September 12, 2018

Heywood Healthcare today announced the negative impacts mandated nurse staffing ratios would have on their viability and their capability to provide safe, quality care to patients in the region. Slated to be Question 1 on the ballot this November, these rigid staffing ratios will devastate smaller hospitals and behavioral health facilities across Massachusetts.

“These strict government mandated ratios will hurt smaller community hospitals like Athol and Heywood, and smaller communities. We believe that Question 1 does not address safe patient ratios – but is about rigid, mandated staffing levels at all times,” shared Dawn Casavant, VP of Development for Heywood Healthcare. “These ratios would force our health system to consider service line and staffing reductions, program closures and drastically impact the many vital community initiatives we support today.”

“Today, staffing is based on professional practice standards that include unit and patient acuity and volume, in addition to critical clinical indicators that influence additional allocation of staffing and resources,” explained Tina Santos, VP for Operations & Chief Nursing Officer for Heywood Healthcare. “A multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals, including physicians, nurses, nurse managers and social services meet daily to discuss patient needs, progress and planning. The care provided is based on expert input on the actual patients being cared for at that time, not on an arbitrary government mandate.”

“As your community-owned healthcare system, we operate on a razor thin margin, continually reviewing our resources and distributing as needed to best serve the needs of our patients and our region,” shared Win Brown, President & CEO of Heywood Healthcare. “The often 1% margin we operate on is used to reinvest in to our healthcare system and your care, as seen through introduction of new services like our Diabetes and Bariatric Centers of Excellence and facility improvements like the additions and renovations underway at Athol Hospital, the development of The Quabbin Retreat, and plans to expand our surgical services advancing surgical offerings to patients close to home

The enormous costs associated with the nurse staffing ballot question will cost Heywood Hospital approximately $5.6 million and Athol Hospital an additional $1.9 million, resulting in possible bed closures and cuts to critical community health programs.

In order to comply with the massive costs associated with the rigid ratios included in Question 1, patients will be forced to wait for beds to come available if every nurse is at their mandated number of patients. 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 be passed on to community hospitals, and result in extreme emergency room wait times, impacting access to care.

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.
"Nurses are a critical part of every care team at Heywood and Athol Hospitals, but this government mandate would severely limit the ability to make the best decisions for our patients," said Catrina Boumil, RN, an emergency room nurse at Heywood Hospital for 3.5 years. "Not only that, but we all know hospitals are different across the state. They are different sizes, specialize in different services, and serve a different population. Having the same staffing plan at every hospital, for every patient, makes no sense."

“Hospitals require a talented team of employees including nurses, facilities, food service, physical therapy, social workers, maintenance, physicians, social workers, environmental services, administrators and many others to provide the highest level of care and support to our community,” Brown continued. “Heywood believes that employees are our greatest asset, and we strive to make Heywood Healthcare a positive working environment for all employees. We believe that keeping community hospitals strong benefits everyone, most importantly, our patients and our community.”

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.”

For more information, please visit or contact Dawn Casavant, Vice President of Development for Heywood Healthcare, at (978) 630-6431.

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