Spaulding Hospital for Continuing Medical Care Cambridge Announces Devastating Impacts of Ballot Question One

CAMBRIDGE, MA – September 12, 2018 – Spaulding Hospital for Continuing Medical Care Cambridge (Spaulding Cambridge) today announced the negative impacts mandated nurse staffing ratios would have on their viability and their capability to provide safe, quality care to patients across the region. Slated to be Question 1 on the ballot this November, these rigid staffing ratios will devastate community hospitals and behavioral health facilities across Massachusetts.

“As a nurse I am very concerned about the unintended consequences of this strict, government mandated ratio bill that will eliminate the ability of professional nurses to assess and flex staffing to meet the changing needs of our patients,” said Joanne Fucile, RN, DNP, CRRN, Director of Nursing at Spaulding Cambridge. “Nurse staffing decisions are complex and we need to take into consideration the patient acuity, the experience of the RN and the Hospital environment in which they are delivering care.  It will also limit patient access to healthcare services if we cannot meet the rigid ratios at all times.”

The enormous costs associated with the nurse staffing ballot question will set Spaulding Cambridge back $3.5 million, resulting in major cuts to community health programs. According to an independent study by MassInsight and BW Research Partners, the ballot question will cost the Massachusetts health system $1.3 billion in the first year, and $900 million every year thereafter.

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

“Mandated ratios are not the way to ensure safe, high quality care for our patients,” said Erica Varley,RN, a nurse at Spaulding Cambridge. “Every patient is different and requires specialty care. Patients are not just a number that can be plugged into a equation.”

The ballot question is opposed by 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.

“There are no scientific studies or reports that demonstrate the effectiveness of government mandated, one-size-fits-all nurse staffing ratio 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. “In fact, 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 Spaulding Hospital Cambridge

Spaulding Hospital Cambridge is a Medicare-certified Long Term Care Hospital (LTCH) with 180 beds. A member of the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, it is a regional leader in health and elder care and accredited by the Joint Commission.  Its programs include complex medical, cardiac care with telemetry, ventilator weaning, pulmonary care, oncology and neurological rehabilitation, and post-organ transplant care.  Specialty services available include peritoneal and hemodialysis, pain management, wound care and chemotherapy.  For more information, please visit www.spauldingrehab.org.

Media Contacts

For media inquiries, please contact the Spaulding Communications Department at (617) 952-5325 or by email