This email focuses on why the MTA is a strong supporter of Question 1. The initiative would set a safe limit on the number of patients assigned to a nurse at one time. Please join me at a rally and canvass for Question 1 on Saturday at MTA headquarters, 2 Heritage Drive, Quincy.
There are three strong reasons why MTA members should vote "yes."
- Research and common sense show that patients benefit if the nurses who care for them aren't overburdened by excessive patient loads.
- The "no" side is engaged in union-busting.
- The "no" side is running a campaign based on fearmongering and misinformation.
More Nurses Are Good for Us and Our Families
As educators, we know that students do better in small classes than in big ones. Likewise, patients do better when nurses have reasonable patient loads. In health care, staffing levels can be a life-or-death matter. The Legislature has failed to address this problem, which is why the Massachusetts Nurses Association is taking the issue to the voters.
Consider a scenario involving a 3-year-old enrolled in day care. The state has set staff/child ratios for young children. Imagine that this child is injured in a fall and an ambulance is called. There are strict rules about how many medical professionals must serve on that ambulance. Now imagine that the child is rushed to the hospital, only to have to wait and wait to be admitted because there aren't enough nurses on duty to care for her.
Why is it OK to mandate strict adult/child ratios for healthy children in a day care center but not OK to have such limits for sick children in a hospital?
The hospital industry, which is the sole funding source behind the "no" campaign, is engaged in blatant union-busting. The MNA has established an intimidation hotline for both nurses and patients. Every day the union receives calls detailing an aggressive and relentless campaign of fearmongering and threats. Here are a few examples of how employees are being intimidated:
- At South Shore Hospital and others, nurses are forced to hand out No on 1 propaganda to patients telling them that if they support Question 1, they may be denied emergency care, wait longer for care, or lose entire services.
- The CEO of MetroWest Medical Center mailed a letter to staff warning them that if they support Question 1, they could lose their jobs.
- In many hospitals, employees have been called into mandatory one-on-one meetings and are told they cannot wear buttons in favor of Question 1.
If the "no" side prevails, nurses and their unions will have a much harder time making the case for safer hospitals for patients and better working conditions for employees.
Behind all these efforts is a multimillion-dollar misinformation campaign that includes TV commercials, direct-mail pieces and hospital contact with patients. The propaganda includes claims that are unsubstantiated by medical research, a true and fair reading of the law, or experience with a similar law for 14 years in California. Here is a link to a piece debunking the lies. Here are some concrete examples of hospitals using their money and clout to scare current and former patients into voting "no."
- At Brockton Hospital and others, when patients log on to the patient portal for information about their care and test results, the first thing they see is information urging them to Vote No on 1.
- At Sturdy Memorial Hospital, a local police officer undergoing treatment in the cardiac rehabilitation program was among a roomful of patients told by a hospital administrator that if they support Question 1, the hospital may be forced to close the cardiac rehab program.
- Hospitals have been mailing deliberately false information - multiple times - to their former patients and their entire hospital coverage areas.
One of the "no" side's most egregious claims is that Question 1 would increase emergency department wait times. Actually, that would be illegal; no one can be turned away. It is also not borne out by the facts. In California, ED wait times declined after that state enacted patient limits, and today they are 47 percent shorter than in Massachusetts.
For another debunking of the "no" campaign's claims, please read this CommonWealth Magazine column by former MTA President Barbara Madeloni and health care expert and employee advocate Jane McAlevey.
Please vote Yes on 1.