No on Question 1
By Lydia Prendergast
With ballot questions creeping up this coming Tuesday, November 6th, a hot topic issue is on the table. Yes or no on ballot question 1? I spoke with my mom, Jennifer Prendergast, on why you should vote NO.
For a little background, Jennifer Prendergast has been a nurse since 1983 and studied at Curry College. She got her bachelor's degree of science in nursing, or BSN, and worked at Mass General Hospital straight out of college for 1 year. After that, she worked, and continues to work, at Beth Israel Medical Center in Boston. She has been there for 34 years and has participated in a variety of jobs-from bedside nursing to being an on site hospital administrator.
What does voting No mean? What does it imply?
“Voting no means that we are not allowing the government to set our nurse to patient ratios. Decision making will be left to the people who are caring for the patients, instead of people who do not understand the issues that go into caring for a variety of patients with different medical needs,”. She went on to say that although the system they have in place now is far from perfect, voting no will “give the nurses decisions to improve upon instead of giving them to the government, who have no real life knowledge on what being a nurse is really like”.
What does voting Yes mean? Why is it bad?
“Voting yes means that there will be a cap on the number of patients a nurse in a specific unit can take for their shift. It also means that if nurse takes a break at any point in time (whether that be for meals, bathroom, etc), there has to be another nurse without patients available to care for their patients while they are away.” Prendergast says this is difficult because there are hardly ever any nurses free without patients. So, a nurse would not be allowed to take any breaks or the patient would have to stay in the ICU (intensive care unit), even if they no longer needed to be there. And this could lead to a ripple effect, because if beds in the ICU are filled with patients that are ready to go to other floors but cannot, patients who need to be in the ICU have no room. This same situation goes for emergency rooms, where patients need help right away but will not be able to get it. “This will also impact smaller community hospitals that do not have the amount of money needed to pay for additional nurses. Not having these could put the hospital out of business. This would make it even harder for urban hospitals to care for the influx of additional patients,”. Voting yes is an illogical and dangerous decision.
Any final thoughts?
“There’s been a lot of media coverage about both issues, making it very difficult for non medical people to understand what they are voting for. And, most people are not voting either way.” She went on to say, “I honestly feel that I am the person that should make the decision for how I care for my patients, not someone else telling me how many I can and cannot care for. Maybe this is the wake up call for hospital administrators to figure out what they’re doing.”
You heard it here first. Make sure you and everyone you know is registered to vote, and go out and vote No on 1! This question is going to greatly impact the status of healthcare in Massachusetts and across the nation, and voting yes could greatly endanger the quality thereof.