October 10, 2018
BOSTON, MA – October 10, 2018 – Heywood Hospital announced today their opposition to mandated nurse staffing ratios, citing the devastating impacts these rigid government requirements would have on their ability to provide emergency care to patients. Slated to be Question 1 on the ballot this November, these unnecessary and unfounded staffing requirements will dramatically increase emergency room wait times and delay life-saving services in hospitals across the state.
“It is imperative that we are able to evaluate our patients based upon their acuity, not based on how many patients are currently in our emergency department. On any given day, nearly half of patients in emergency rooms are not true emergencies. With this government mandate, providers would not have the flexibility to shift resources to those with true emergent needs if the ratios were already reached,” stated Dr. Ellen Ray, Director of Emergency Services.
The enormous costs and operational hurdles associated with the nurse staffing ballot question will set Heywood Healthcare back over $1,000,000 in the emergency department alone, and will severely impede access. Wait times in the emergency room will dramatically increase, causing delays in services throughout the hospital – including those that are time-sensitive and life-saving. The mandated ratios proposed by Question 1 will limit capacity in Heywood Hospital’s emergency department, causing approximately 8,400 patients to experience both excessive wait times and reduced access to timely emergency care annually.
There are no exceptions to this mandate, even in the event of an unexpected influx of patients – such as a multi-car crash or large fire. According to anindependent study by MassInsight and BW Research Partners, mandated nursing staffing requirements would exacerbate the current nursing shortage, which is currently highest in Psychiatric units (7.8%) and in Emergency Departments (7.5%).
The ballot question 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.
"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 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."
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.
About Athol Hospital
A member of the Heywood Healthcare system, Athol Hospital is a 25-bed non-profit, acute care and outpatient facility serving the communities of the North Quabbin region of Massachusetts. Athol Hospital’s services include 24/7 Emergency Care, Surgical Services, Oncology, Respiratory Therapy, Radiology and Laboratory, Diabetes Center and the Center for Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation. It is designated as a Critical Access Hospital and Primary Stroke Center, licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and accredited by the Joint Commission.
About Heywood Hospital
A member of the Heywood Healthcare system, Heywood Hospital is a 134-bed acute care hospital in Gardner, MA, providing a broad range of high quality medical, surgical, obstetrical, pediatric and behavioral health services on an inpatient and outpatient basis. The hospital’s Centers of Excellence include the Watkins Center for Emergency and Acute Care; the LaChance Maternity Center; the Diabetes Center and the Heywood Heart and Vascular Center, an affiliate of the Heart and Vascular Center at UMass Memorial Health Care.
About Heywood Healthcare
Heywood Healthcare is an independent, community-owned healthcare system serving north central Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire. It is comprised of Heywood Hospital, a non-profit, 134-bed acute-care hospital in Gardner, MA; Athol Hospital, a 25-bed not-for-profit, Critical Access Hospital in Athol, MA; the Quabbin Retreat, a behavioral health and substance misuse treatment facility, in Petersham, MA; and Heywood Medical Group with primary care physicians and specialists located throughout the region. The organization includes five satellite facilities in MA; Heywood Rehabilitation Center and Heywood Urgent Care in Gardner; West River Health Center in Orange; Winchendon Health Center and Murdock School-based Health Center in Winchendon; Heywood Charitable Foundation; and the North Quabbin Community Coalition.
About Heywood Medical Group
Heywood Medical Group is a non-profit Physician Organization affiliated with Heywood Hospital with over 50 physicians and advanced practice providers specializing in Primary Care and Specialty Care. Our primary care physicians focus on Pediatrics and Family Practice. Our specialty care physicians focus on the areas of Cardiology, Endocrinology, Gastroenterology, Bariatrics, Gynecology/Obstetrics, Orthopedics, Pulmonology, Urology and General Surgery.
Heywood Medical group serves individuals and families in need of health care and works in coordination with Heywood Hospital to provide high-quality comprehensive care to everyone.