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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.

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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

Canton

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