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Keep Your Care Local - VOTE NO ON #1



September 12, 2018

Government mandated nurse staffing ratios would devastate local hospitals across Massachusetts Read More


October 10, 2018

Proposal would critically impact emergency departments wait times and decrease access to care Read More

Heywood Healthcare Opposes Ballot Question #1.  

We believe that Ballot Question 1 is a dangerous and ill-conceived idea put forth by a nursing union representing less than 25% of the RNs in the state that is simply seeking to build its membership rolls. The ballot question, which is based on a much less stringent law in California, and has proven to have no demonstrable effect on patient care in that state. In fact, Massachusetts is ranked 4th in the country for quality while California languishes at 25th based on the leading national hospital safety grade rating. Heywood Hospital consistently receives an ‘A’ safety rating from The Leapfrog Group, the leading nonprofit rating organization that assess quality and safety.

At first glance, the Question 1’s idea of mandating more nurses around the clock at Heywood and Athol Hospitals seems positive. However, this ballot initiative will have immediate and long lasting negative consequences on how we deliver care, both statewide and in our region. 

Heywood Healthcare believes that Question 1 does not address safe patient ratios –but is about rigid, mandated staffing levels at all times. 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. 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. 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.

Hospitals require a talented team of employees including nurses, facilities, food service, physical therapy, social workers, maintenance, physicians, environmental services, administrators and many others to provide the highest level of care and support to our community.  Heywood believes that employees are our greatest asset, and we strive to make Heywood Healthcare a positive working environment for all employees.

This mandate would add an estimated $8 million in costs to our health system annually, a cost we simply cannot absorb and function as we do today.  Heywood is one of the lowest commercially paid Hospitals in the state (9th lowest) and serves a population largely dependent on Medicare and Medicaid, the absolute lowest payers in our industry. We strive to be fiscally responsible and financially prudent to ensure continued access to high quality care in our communities; but if Question 1 were to pass as proposed today, we will face drastic changes that will impact our health system, our employees, and those who rely on Heywood Healthcare for their healthcare needs. Your access to our high quality services will become limited in many areas.  This is not a threat, but merely a fact of the situation, there is only so much money available to run our organization.

Heywood Healthcare is addressing concerns with Question 1 based on the realities of the situation. The reality is, difficult choices will have to be made. Union tactics are designed to create discord in staff and to mislead the public through blatant mischaracterizations of “facts” and lack scientific research, evidence or reason, and are used as the primary motivator to get others to accept their idea. Heywood Healthcare provides exceptional support to its staff and achieves excellent quality ratings for its care.  We continuously look to ways to improve our services and systems to benefit our patients and all our staff. Our system, however, simply does not have the funding to support this mandate and continue to provide the access we do today.

We believe that keeping community hospitals strong benefits everyone, most importantly, our patients and our community.  Please do not fall prey to the Massachusetts Nursing Union’s one-sided misinformation that is rampant and truly disappointing. Get the facts by visiting:

Heywood Healthcare encourages civil and thoughtful discussion on this subject, but does not tolerate or support unprofessional posts, vulgar language or personal attacks on our social media. Bullying, unbalanced, misrepresented information and abusive language that we have witnessed earlier in this topic will be deleted.