Western Massachusetts hospitals meet to discuss impacts of Question 1

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Nurses, physicians, and administrators from western Massachusetts hospitals gathered at Baystate Medical Center Monday morning to discuss the negative impacts of Question 1.

The passing of ballot Question 1 would put a limit on the number of patients assigned to a nurse at any given time. Hospitals across the state would stand to lose a billion dollars and could be forced to turn patients away once they’ve met their patient limit. 

“Too many patients to take care of,” said Catherine Penniman, a nurse at Mercy Medical Center. “They go home they cry, they haven’t been able to take as good a care of a patient as they would like too.”

“CEOs out there that make a lot of money and they are in charge of where that money goes, so their bonuses every year could really be used for the benefit of the patients that they serve,” Penniman added.

Question 1 supporters believe patient care is more important than profit, while opponents say the mandate will cost the hospitals across the state millions and limit patient care. 

“So when somebody has a trauma, a disaster occurs, the patients come here,” said Jane Albert, senior vice president of marketing and communications at Baystate Medical Center. “If we can’t take care of them and this ballot initiative passes, and we have to say, ‘I’m sorry, we’re at our government mandated ratio. Where are community members going to go?'”  

If Question 1 passes, hospitals across the state stand to lose about a billion dollars in they would also have to limit the number of patients they could see.

“This would increase taxes and raise copay, out of pocket spending and other insurance increases for families and small businesses,” Jane Albert at Baystate Medical Center told 22News. “At a time when our focus is on controlling the cost of health care.”

If hospitals go over their mandated limit they could be fined $25,000 per patient each day. 

Baystate Medical Center, the region’s only trauma center and neonatal intensive care unit, stands to lose $40 million. Mercy Medical Center $13 million and Holyoke Medical Center $6 million. 

Advocates of Question 1, say limiting the number of patients assigned to nurses would increase care. 
Opponents claim the ballot initiative would increase wait times, limit hospital beds and force hospitals to turn patients away once they’ve met their mandated limit. 

If Question 1 passes, hospitals would have several weeks to hire thousands of nurses. 

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