RNs - Massachusetts

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Raising the bar in the battle for safe RN staffing

Julie Pinkham, RN, MNA Executive Director, Massachusetts Nurse, November/December 2004

With the 2004 MNA Convention over, the members have debated and decided the course for the future. The five-year plan was embraced and the funding provided through a modified approach as dictated by the members. Members amended the proposal on the floor to stagger and lower the initial phase-in of the dues increase and while adopting the 2006 rate, the membership voted to delete the 3 percent annual inflation factor from this proposal.

The Board of Directors and finance committee will review and adjust the five-year plan on the basis of the modifications members made to the funding plan.

Regarding the Proposed Hospital Industry Nurse Staffing Bill

Karen Higgins, RN, MNA President, November 30, 2004

Canton - While we are pleased that the Massachusetts Hospital Association has now acknowledged that a crisis exists for the safety of patients in our state's hospitals, legislation filed by the MHA and sponsored by Senator Richard Moore misses the mark on patient safety and maintains the dangers of the status quo.

All parties agree that we have a disturbing crisis in Massachusetts - nurses are being forced to care for too many patients at once, and patients are suffering the consequences in the form of preventable errors, avoidable complications, increased lengths of stay and readmissions. Studies by the most respected scientific and medical researchers affirm the significance of safe minimum RN-to-patient ratios for patient safety.

MNA/Coalition to Protect Mass. Patients Re-Files Safe RN Staffing Bill to Regulate RN-to-Patient Ratios in State's Hospitals

Legislation is Key to Improving Patient Care & to Ending the Nursing Shortage
Massachusetts Nurses Association, November 29, 2004

Canton - The Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA), in conjunction with the Coalition to Protect Massachusetts Patients, announced today that it will re-file legislation on Dec. 1st that would require all Massachusetts hospitals to adhere to Department of Public Health (DPH)-established minimum registered nurses (RN)-to-patient ratios as a condition of licensure by DPH.

The legislation was passed favorably by the legislature's Joint Health Care Committee last session and a 10-hospital Pilot Program was passed in the Senate budget. The House Ways and Means Committee is currently in the process of creating a subcommittee to work on the bill.

Laws needed for nurse-to-patient ratios

Sandy Eaton, RN, Quincy, The Patriot Ledger, November 12, 2004

Thank you for your informative article on needle stick injuries in the health care setting (‘‘Infection Control: Safer needles, safer work,'' Nov. 2).

The Massachusetts Nurses Association led the charge to mandate high standards to prevent potentially lethal injuries to hospital staff. However, research now shows that ‘‘nurse staffing and organizational climate are key determinants of needle stick risk and must be considered with the adoption of safety equipment to effectively reduce sharps injuries'' (American Journal of Infection Control, June 2002).

Infection Control: Safer needles, safer work

Sue Reinert, The Patriot Ledger, November 2, 2004

They're merely unpleasant for patients getting an injection. But for millions of health care workers, needles may be deadly. That was on nurse Deborah Hylander's mind when she arrived at Quincy Medical Center two years ago to head the hospital's employee health program.

‘‘I'd seen people devastated by fear,'' after an accidental needlestick that could give them HIV or hepatitis, said Hylander, who also oversees infection control and workers' compensation.

Now the hospital is celebrating a sharp reduction in needlestick injuries and other worker exposures to patients' blood and bodily fluids, one of the most dangerous parts of their jobs.

The nursing shortage eases

Scott Allen, Boston Globe, October 5, 2004

The nursing shortage in Massachusetts has eased -- with the vacancy rate dropping from 8.5 percent in January 2003 to 6.8 percent in January of this year, according to a study released last week by the state hospital association and the Massachusetts Organization of Nurse Executives. But hospital officials and nurses cautioned that the long crisis in the nursing profession is far from over.

Hospital association president Ron Hollander attributed the vacancy drop to aggressive recruiting by hospitals. But he said that many hospitals want to increase the number of nursing positions at a time when the workforce is aging, promising a wave of retirements ahead. "Hospitals alone cannot solve a structural nursing shortage," he said.

A dire diagnosis

Sam Allis, Boston Globe, October 3, 2004

The Observer is a big fan of nurses.

They're the ones who monitor our post-op pain while the docs are five-putting on the 16th green, who insert the catheters and traffic in our intimacies.

They're the sentinels of the ICUs and the caregivers in nursing homes, the indispensables in operating rooms. They're the ones who increasingly make you say "Aaahh," diagnose maladies, and call in prescriptions.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but nurses are becoming the face of medicine in this bloodcurdling age of managed care.

Senator blasts nurses' minimum staffing plan

Jon Brodkin, MetroWest Daily News, September 28, 2004

Worcester - State Sen. Richard Moore criticized the Massachusetts Nurses Association's campaign to mandate minimum staffing at hospitals yesterday, saying the proposal would exacerbate a nursing shortage that has caused job vacancies throughout the state.

Moore, an Uxbridge Democrat who is co-chairman of the Legislature's health care committee, argued the proposal would increase the demand for nurses without boosting supply. The legislation, which would assess fines as large as $25,000 to hospitals that do not staff enough nurses, would also create a financial burden many would be unable to absorb, Moore said.

Becker forum spawns ideas to overcome shortage

Lisa Eckelbecker, Worcester Telegram & Gazette, September 28, 2004

Worcester - Massachusetts employers have been able to fill more nursing jobs in the last year, but the state and nation continue to grapple with a nursing shortage that is woven into larger financial, political and technological health care system problems, nursing experts and observers said yesterday.

About 6.8 percent of registered nurse positions were vacant in Massachusetts in January, down from a vacancy rate of 8.5 percent a year earlier, according to a survey released yesterday by the Massachusetts Hospital Association and the Massachusetts Organization of Nurse Executives. The vacancy rate in 50 Massachusetts hospitals fell to 7 percent in January from 8.8 percent the year before, the groups reported.

MHA Survey of RN Vacancy Rates Misses the Mark on Nursing Crisis

Vacancy Rates Say Little about the Actual Safety of Staffing in Hospitals - It’s RN-to-Patient Ratios that Matter
Without a Guarantee of Safe RN-Patient Ratios, Patients Remain at Risk and Nurses Recruited to Fill Vacancies Will Not Stay
Massachusetts Nurses Association, September 27, 2004

Boston – The release of a survey today by the Massachusetts Hospital Association and Mass Organization of Nurse Executives showing a drop in the vacancy rate for registered nurses in Massachusetts hospitals fails to provide a true measure of the quality and safety of nurse staffing levels in Commonwealth hospitals. The most important measure of nursing care quality is the ratio of registered nurses to patients, something the hospital industry refuses to provide. Without legislation to establish safe, minimum RN-to-patient ratios, attempts to address the nursing crisis in hospitals will not succeed, placing patients at continued risk, while forcing more nurses to leave hospital nursing.

Software enables nurses to bid for extra shifts

Hospital's answer to staff shortages
Davis Bushnell, Boston Globe, September 16, 2004

Ayer - Registered nurses at Nashoba Valley Medical Center are doing what few of their counterparts anywhere can do: logging on to their computers and bidding on working shifts that have openings.

The hospital unveiled an unusual staffing software product called eShift in the spring and early summer, in an effort to manage nursing shortages more effectively, enhance patient-care continuity, give staff nurses opportunities for extra pay, and cut down on the costs of hiring nurses from temporary agencies, chief executive Andrei Soran said in an interview last week.

Safe Staffing Saves Lives: See 'Seachange Bulletin Archives' for background.

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