Letter: Hospital brass mislead on ballot Question 1

Posted
To the editor:

Nurses need your help. Hospital executives across the state have decided that profits and outlandish executive pay are more important than safe patient care. The number of staff in hospitals to care for you or a loved one have decreased, our community members have gotten sicker and more vulnerable and yet hospitals are making tremendous profits. Berkshire Medical Center alone made $36 million in profits last year. Hospital executives have invested millions of taxpayer dollars into trying to confuse voters, instead of just hiring the team members they need to care for their communities.

Question 1 is not a government mandate, as hospital executives claim. This law was written by bedside nurses, for our patients. It contains flexibility for hospitals to staff based on how sick patients are and allows hospitals to choose their own solutions. Chronic short staffing in the name of profits can no longer be one of the options.

Hospital executives want citizens to think of ambulances circling the hospital with nowhere to go, except in 2009 Massachusetts became the first state to ban emergency rooms from refusing ambulances — and the law will mean more nurses available to care for ED patients, not fewer.

Hospital executives want our hospital coworkers to be fearful of losing their jobs. However, our brothers and sisters in SEIU, which includes the BMC-licensed practical nurse union, helped craft language included in the ballot to ensure no one could be laid off in order to comply with the ballot when it becomes law.

Hospital executives want people to think that their hospitals will close, but consider the example of California. That state has had safe patient limits for almost 15 years and not a single rural, community, teaching or large hospital system has closed due to safe patient limits. The data shows hospitals in California are actually making more money and health care costs there are lower than in Massachusetts.

Hospital executives have hired lawyers, lobbyist and high-powered PR firms to spread misinformation. They have created signs that mirror our YES on 1 signs to confuse people. They have put executives in scrubs so they look like the bedside nurses who actually wrote ballot Question 1, nurses like me. But the truth is that nurses overwhelmingly support safe patient limits. According to a survey earlier this year of nurses randomly selected from the state's list of registered nurses, nearly 9 in 10 (86 percent) reported that they support safe patient limits.

Nurses say YES on Question 1 and we need your help to ensure safe patient care. Please vote YES on 1 this Nov. 6.

Mark Brodeur BSN, RN,

Pittsfield

The writer is a Massachusetts Nurses Association Bargaining Committee member at Berkshire Medical Center.




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