BID–Needham Opposes Ballot Question One on Nurse Staffing Ratios

Date: September 12, 2018

Government mandated nurse staffing ratios would cost BID–Needham $2.6 million annually and force the hospital to consider eliminating community programming and education

NEEDHAM, MASS. — Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital–Needham (BID–Needham) today announced its opposition to Ballot Question One, which would mandate nurse staffing ratios throughout the state.  Passage of the ballot question would severely impact BID–Needham’s ability to provide safe, quality care to patients. Slated to be Question One on the ballot this November 6, these staffing ratios would devastate community hospitals like BID–Needham and behavioral health facilities across Massachusetts. The enormous costs associated with the nurse staffing ballot question will set Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital–Needham back approximately $2.6 million.

“At BID–Needham, we have some of the most talented and committed nurses and clinicians in the region,” said John Fogarty, president and CEO of BID–Needham. “This mandate would take away our nurses’ ability to make real-time decisions and the flexibility to deploy resources based on the unique and ever-changing needs of our patients. They are too rigid to implement across the board and would result in devastating cuts to much-needed community resources, patient education and prevention programming. I encourage our community to vote no on Question One to help BID–Needham continue to deliver outstanding care.”

“As a long-time registered nurse and nursing administrator, I stand opposed to Question One,” said Kathy Davidson, RN, MS, chief nursing officer of BID–Needham. “We don’t treat our patients as numbers, and we can’t treat our nurses as numbers either. This staffing mandate would put our nurses in the position of having to shuffle resources to accommodate mandated staffing levels when patient demand increases, while some of the most at-risk patients would have to wait for life-saving care. Every day, I work with some of the finest nurses I have come across in my career, and this ballot initiative counters their years of training, education and professional judgment to take care of patients to provide the safe, high-quality care that we are known for.”

If passed, emergency department wait times would increase dramatically as hospitals struggles to comply with these inflexible ratios. BID–Needham currently has a deficit of six nurses, which would only increase if the ballot question passes. According to an independent study by MassInsight and BW Research Partners, the state of Massachusetts will need to hire 5,911 new nurses within 37 days of the strict mandate passing at a time when there is already a dire nurse shortage across the state.

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

“We don’t believe in providing care that is ‘one size fits all’ or nursing ratios that are ‘one size fits all,’ ” Davidson added.  “Like each patient, every hospital is different and has different staffing needs that these mandated ratios won’t fix.”

BID–Needham joins the American Nurses Association of Massachusetts, the Organization of Nurse Leaders, 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 in opposing this ballot question.

“There are no scientific studies or reports that demonstrate the effectiveness of government mandated, staffing ratios for improving quality of care, patient outcomes or professional nursing practice," said Donna Glynn, President of the American Nurses Association and a Nurse Scientist for the VA Boston Healthcare System. “Additionally, no studies evaluating nurse staffing ratios reported a ‘magic’ number as the single factor to affect patient outcomes or job satisfaction. This ballot question is ignoring scientific fact around what is best for nursing practice, decision making and quality patient care.”

About Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital−Needham

Beth Israel Deaconess HospitalNeedham (BIDNeedham) is a licensed 58-bed acute care community hospital affiliated with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Boston. The direct affiliation with BIDMC, since 2000, has facilitated the clinical integration of staff and resources in emergency medicine, hospital medicine (hospitalists), cardiology, radiology, orthopaedics, general surgery, pathology, and oncology. BIDMC and BIDNeedham opened the Beth Israel Deaconess Cancer Center and Surgical Pavilion at BID–Needham, providing more accessible, patient-centered cancer care and advanced surgical services to the community.

BIDNeedham has served residents in Needham, Newton, Dedham, Dover, Medfield, Sherborn, Wellesley, Westwood and other surrounding communities for more than 100 years. The hospital has been recognized by several organizations for quality and safety, including the Gold Seal of Approval® from The Joint Commission, an “A” grade Hospital Safety Score from The Leapfrog Group and a first-place Accountable Care Compass Award from the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association (MHA). For more information, please visit Find BIDNeedham on Facebook at and follow us on Twitter @bidneedham.