A ‘yes’ on Question 1 will significantly hurt community hospitals

PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

There are many reasons why Question 1 would be a disaster. Many of the red flag issues have been discussed. However, there is one reality that needs more clarity: Not all hospitals are created equal.

The proposed nurse staffing ratios in Question 1 presume that all hospital staffing needs can follow the same script. This is not the case. Big-city teaching hospitals, and small community hospitals are very different animals, and have very different staffing needs.

Our large city hospitals are our trauma centers. They handle our most serious health issues, from brain surgery, to heart surgery, to very technical breaks in our bones, and the list goes on. The expertise used by our talented doctors and nurses, working together, to address each individual scenario can’t be scripted.

However, not everyone lives a safe distance away from a trauma center. For those of us outside of these metropolitan areas, we rely on our community hospitals. They are not trauma centers, but instead, act as triage centers.

Here, our most serious patients rush in to be stabilized, and directed to the nearest trauma center that will best handle the emergency. Without them, our most vulnerable might not live to make the longer trip to a trauma center. This will also require staffing decisions made to fit the immediate situation. The patients they admit are not at the same level of seriousness found in our trauma centers. Their staffing, rightfully, reflects this reality, and this is also reflected in the hospital’s finances.

Forcing the exact same nurse staffing ratios held at trauma centers to our community hospitals, would spell financial disaster, and possible closures. It does not make sense. You don’t have to be a member of the medical community to realize this.

This is why every hospital in Massachusetts, both for-profit and not-for-profit are against Question 1. And this is why I am voting “No” on Question 1.

Kathryn Dow

Townsend