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(NECN: Kristen Carosa) - The Massachusetts Nurses Association is taking their top concern public.
Wednesday they began collecting signatures for a ballot question to improve staffing levels at hospitals.
“Nurses with five, six, seven, eight patients at one time; this is a problem; this needs to be addressed,” says Carolyn Moore, an RN at St. Vincent Hospital.
The question would appear on the 2014 ballot asking voters to mandate staffing levels. It would put a limit on the amount of patients a nurse has at one time.
The MBNA brought petitions to Worcester Wednesday where they spoke to seniors about the issue. The group needs 70,000 signatures to take the question to the voters.
“We are bringing it to the people of Massachusetts; we want them to answer if they want safe patient care; we feel that they do and we want them to support us; we want it on the ballot,” says UMass Memorial RN Lynne Starbard.
Locally, UMass Memorial Medical Center is weighing in on the MNA's initiative.
In a statement, the medical center says the hospital is “committed to maintaining appropriate staffing levels to provide safe, high quality care to our patients. We believe that our nurse managers are best suited to make decisions about staffing in real-time.”
Despite that, nurses say staffing levels are still a problem.
“We have to negotiate every three years and every time we have to negotiate a new contract patient staffing seems to be an issue,” Moore says.
Just after one day of campaigning, nurses have picked up some support in Worcester.
“This is important; it’s going to affect the whole community and I think if we can make the right investment in nursing care we can have better health outcomes for all of our citizens,” says Joe O’Brien, councilor at large.
“We will talk to different groups; we will talk to our neighbors, family members every day to let them know that this is a possibility to get safe patient care,” Starbard says. “We want them to support it and want it on the ballot.”
More information on Patient Safety Act here: http://patientsafetyact.com/