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Nurses have good reason to fight over staffing ratios

As a registered nurse for 25 years working in a community hospital south of Boston, and an active member of the Massachusetts Nurses Association, I was enraged by your Aug. 22 editorial “Nurse ratios shouldn’t be set by law — or the ballot box.”

Nurses have been fighting for safe staffing ratios for a long time. We feel that taking the issue to the people of the Commonwealth is a way to get this done. We have many accounts of unsafe staffing conditions at hospitals in Massachusetts, and now that the for-profits have moved in, the situation is only getting worse.

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Staffing has been squeezed in a vise grip, and patient loads are dangerously excessive. Our initiative is even more critical for patients in light of health care reform, as we see the health care landscape ever-changing. Patients are being put through the grinder, only to be discharged too soon and then readmitted.

It only makes sense to limit the number of patients a registered nurse cares for in light of complex medical issues facing many people today, and the fact that many people don’t seek medical attention until it’s too late.

The next time you or a loved one is hospitalized, ask the registered nurse: How many patients is he or she caring for that day?

Kathy Reardon


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