Why I am voting “No” on Question 1

Everyone-is-a-Caregiver_NVOver the past three years, UMass Memorial Health Care has been building a culture based on the belief that everyone is a caregiver. I see it every day in the halls of our hospitals, on the patient floors, in the housekeeping huddles, in our offices, and out on the roads in our ambulances. This team focus – where everyone, everyday is needed to deliver the best care to our patients – has empowered and energized our organization.

There is still work to be done, but I want to say thank you – to each of you – for placing a high value on the contributions of your colleagues from every department across our organization. Because you have embraced this crucial team concept, we have seen improvements in patient quality, safety and satisfaction scores. These accomplishments belong to all of us equally.

Question 1, the ballot initiative before voters this November, would require government-mandated nurse staffing ratios at all Massachusetts hospitals, and is inconsistent with our culture. We deeply value our nurses and the critical role they play in patient care. Question 1, however, would force us to elevate nurse staffing above all other caregivers. This is not in the best interest of our organization and, more importantly, it is not in the best interest of patient-centered care. We need everyone, everyday – equally and without exception – to ensure our patients are receiving high-quality care in the safest environment possible.

If Question 1 passes, I am convinced that we will lose thousands of non-nursing jobs across the state, see small community hospitals close, and have much, much longer waits for patients to be seen in the emergency department. The impact could be absolutely devastating for UMass Memorial and other health care systems in the state.

I am not alone with these concerns. Question 1 is opposed by reputable organizations including the American Nurses Association; The Massachusetts Chapter of the Emergency Nurses Association; The Massachusetts Chapter of the Organization of Nurse Leaders; The Infusion Nurses Society; The Massachusetts Association of Colleges of Nursing; the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses’ Greater Boston Chapter; the Massachusetts College of Emergency Physicians; the Massachusetts Medical Society; the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association; the Massachusetts Council of Community Hospitals – and many other leading organizations across the state. The risks are real.

Together, we have the power to influence the outcome of Question 1. I encourage everyone to go to https://www.protectpatientsafety.com and learn more about this issue and to vote this November.

Thank you, as always, for taking great care of our patients and each other.

Eric