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Question 1 would tie nurses’ hands, make practice impossible

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By Thursday, Oct 11, 2018 Letters 1

To the editor:

I am a nurse at Fairview Hospital, a 25-bed Critical Access Hospital, and I oppose Ballot Question 1. Critical Access Hospitals are crucial to health care because they ensure the provision of essential services in rural communities. It takes a lot of flexibility, teamwork and an interdisciplinary approach to make sure we provide safe, quality care to those we serve.

Year after year, nursing ranks as the most trusted profession, and yet this law in essence says, “We don’t trust you to do what you are trained to do.” Nurses are flexible, adaptable and adept at exercising critical thinking to meet the needs of patients. Several times throughout the day, we have nurse-led huddles to focus on needs and how we can share resources. This proposal would take away the very thing that nurses are best at—assessing, planning and implementation—and replace it with a rigid formula. There is no one-size-fits-all for anything in health care. What you see on our floors one moment is often vastly different five minutes later.

Nurses at Fairview practice in an environment where shared governance is the norm—decision-making at the point of care by the people doing the work. We empower nurses and expect top-of-license nursing practice; however, if Question 1 passes, it would tie our hands and make that kind of practice impossible. Nurses have worked hard to advance our profession through education, advocacy, accountability and leadership. We have a voice, we articulate what we do and our outcomes prove we are good at it. This law would set back the entire profession, and health care as a whole.

It’s easy to think this law is a great idea. Who doesn’t want more nurses? But look closer and you will see the reality: Nurses won’t be able to break for lunch, cover a nurse who wants to attend an educational offering or aid a colleague who unexpectedly needs help. Will we forego caring and doing what’s right because of a ratio that someone else has decided for us?

Because Fairview is small, this law would be catastrophic for us. It is not only nurses who will feel the difference. We will be forced to adopt an all-RN model of care and lose valuable members of our interdisciplinary team because it will be too costly to keep both. We may have to cut beds and turn patients away—patients who are members of our community, members of our families, and people whose lives and care we are deeply invested in. Having to turn patients away would be devastating.  I urge you to consider voting NO on Ballot Question 1 in November.

Elizabeth Nichols RN, MSN/Ed., CENP
Great Barrington

The writer is director of education at Fairview Hospital

One Comment   Add Comment

  1. Harold Schrager says:

    I understand the writer’s concern about Fairview, although they may be a bit exaggerated. It’s important to note there are other hospitals in Massachusetts beside Fairview. There has been at least millions spent to defeat this measure. Of course fear is the main tactic of the opposition. Question 1 is supported by a very large majority of direct service nurses. Many of the nurses who argue against this measure are administrators. Most of the money being spent against this measure are from hospitals and other large corporations. Nurses caseloads in many hospitals tend to be way too high. This is a vote for more nurses, smaller caseloads. Please consider voting Yes on question 1 for better care throughout the Commonwealth.

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