New study shows nurses believe they have high patient loads

BOSTON (WWLP) – Health care has taken a huge hit in western Massachusetts with the closure of North Adams Regional Hospital and infant deaths at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton. To add to growing concerns, an independent study conducted just last month shows nearly 80% of registered nurses believe hospital care is getting worse, and they say it is because of high patient loads.

“Sometimes I do have to drive home through tears in my eyes because I feel like I wasn’t able to do everything that I could,” said President of the Massachusetts Nurses Association Donna Kelly-Williams.

The report’s credibility is put into question because it was paid for by the nurse’s union, which is pushing a ballot question on patient limits.

According to a statement released by the Massachusetts Hospital Association, “it is not credible, and it is troubling that the union, to advance its political agenda, would issue such unsubstantiated safety claims that run counter to the publicly available data and evidence. No federal and state government agency that routinely monitors and licenses hospitals for performance or quality of care has raised concerns on issues that the union makes claims about.”

Hiring more nurses seems like a solution, but a major chunk of a hospital’s budget goes towards paying staff, and it can get expensive.

“We’ve got to find that balance between funding and having that safety and the right number of nurses to address the issues that we really have in places like Holyoke and throughout the Commonwealth,” said Holyoke State Representative Aaron Vega.

High patient loads could also cost you more money. A report by the state shows that Massachusetts ranks 42nd in the nation when it comes to avoidable hospital readmission. The report also shows that these preventable readmissions are wasting more than $700 million taxpayer dollars every year.

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