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In an effort to help voters decide which candidate to select in the Nov. 6 election, WestfordCAT News is asking a question each week of those candidates who will represent Westford. The responses below come from Republican candidate for state Representative Kathy Lynch and state Rep. James Arciero, a Westford Democrat and the incumbent.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What is your position on Question 1, a proposed law in Massachusetts that would limit patient to nurse ratios?
State Rep., Littleton, Westford, and part of Chelmsford
Patient safety and care must always be our highest priority in health care. I had hoped that those who provide critical care for patients, our nurses and doctors, could have come to a mutual agreement with those who administer our hospitals and must determine how to pay for these important services.
Unfortunately, this has not happened and the voters of Massachusetts will decide the merits of the Question 1 proposal on staffing ratios in the November election. Personally, I will be voting in favor of Question 1.
I believe that we must enable medical staff to provide the critical care that patients both need and deserve. My concern is that eight of 10 nurses are saying that safety is being compromised with too many patients, which is resulting in a diminished quality of care and greater medical risks.
While we must always respect the will of the voters when they decide Question 1, I am hopeful, depending on the results of the referendum, that the legislature could address this matter, as we did in the case of the Marijuana referendum, to ensure that the outcome and the voter’s wishes are fully implemented in the most effective and efficient way.
My position is No on #1. I agree that nurses should not be placed in work environments that are excessively stressful. We do not want exhausted, over-worked nurses caring for patients. That situation can lead to poor patient care at the precise time the patient needs help.
However, I do not believe that placing high-penalty, unfunded mandates on staffing is the best way to accomplish a fair work environment with quality health care. There are too many variables in play to enforce such a law. The solution is well-managed health care facilities where the leadership takes into account all factors before determining the best nurse-patient ratio.
Factors include fair consideration for both nurse and patient, skill level of each nurse, level of care needed for each patient, quality of equipment/resources, etc. The leadership and staff in the unit know best their situational needs and what is fair. Furthermore, the costs to hospitals are exorbitant with state-owned hospitals required to spend an estimated $67.8 to $74.8 million.
Additionally, a Health Policy Commission would be required to spend about $1.3 million to monitor compliance — a burden for hospitals — potentially closing them. Ultimately, health care suffers and you go broke.