Published on October 11, 2018


Proposal would critically impact emergency departments wait times and decrease access to care

Milford Regional Medical Center announced today their opposition to mandated nurse staffing ratios, citing the devastating impacts these rigid government requirements would have on their ability to provide emergency care to patients. Slated to be Question 1 on the ballot this November, these unnecessary and unfounded staffing requirements will dramatically increase emergency room wait times and delay life-saving services in hospitals across the state.

“Rigid staffing ratios will have a devastating effect on our ability to care for patients in the Emergency Department (ED),” says Jeffrey Hopkins, MD, medical director of Milford Regional’s emergency department.  “Not only will wait times skyrocket for patients, but our ED nurses would be stripped of using their expertise and judgment when it matters most.  These arbitrary ratios don’t allow for the type of flexibility, discretion or common sense medical decision-making needed to provide emergency care.  These are just a few of the reasons that the Massachusetts College of Emergency Physicians (MACEP), the Massachusetts Emergency Nurses Association (MENA) and the Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) strongly oppose Question 1.”

The enormous costs and operational hurdles associated with the nurse staffing ballot question will set Milford Regional back $4.7 million, and will translate to severely negative impacts in emergency departments. Wait times in the emergency room will dramatically increase, causing delayed services throughout the hospital – including those that are time-sensitive and life-saving.

There are no exceptions to this mandate, even in the event of an unexpected influx of patients – such as a multi-car crash or large fire. According to an independent study by MassInsight and BW Research Partners, mandated nursing staffing requirements would exacerbate the current nursing shortage, which is currently highest in psychiatric units (7.8%) and in emergency departments (7.5%).

The ballot question would require that hospitals across the state, no matter their size or specific needs of their patients, adhere to the same rigid nurse staffing ratios within all patient care areas at all times. The petition does not make allowances for rural or small community hospitals, holding them to the same staffing ratios as major Boston teaching hospitals.

Kendra Zuffoletti, RN, an emergency nurse at Milford Regional, knows the devastating impact mandated nurse staffing ratios have on hospitals and patient care. She lived and worked in California for five years as a registered nurse in the emergency department when the nurse-patient staffing ratio ballot was implemented there.  “I watched our hospital struggle,” she says. “Floors closed, services were cut, patients were held in the ER for up to 36 hours waiting for a bed, ER wait times sky rocketed, hospitals all around us closed, EMS were stuck holding the wall waiting for a nurse.... The lack of flexibility in an “at all times” nurse staffing ratio hurts patient care; it doesn’t improve it. Nurses want to use their professional judgment when caring for patients based upon acuity, or how sick a patient is. This is thrown out the window with ratios. I know… I dealt with it.”

The ballot question is opposed by the American Nurses Association - Massachusetts, Emergency Nurses Association - Massachusetts Chapter, Organization of Nurse Leaders, Infusion Nurses Society, Massachusetts Association of Colleges of Nursing, Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses’ Greater Boston Chapter, the Western Massachusetts Nursing Collaborative, the Massachusetts College of Emergency Physicians, the Massachusetts Medical Society, the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association, the Massachusetts Council of Community Hospitals, the Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals, and other healthcare and business leaders across the state.




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