© 2024
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Yes, No Camps Reflect On Failure Of MA Ballot Question One

The main sign outside of Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Josh Landes

Massachusetts voters overwhelming voted “no” Tuesday on a ballot question that would have set patient limits for hospital nurses.

Question One failed at the polls by over a million votes. It would have imposed specific ratios of patients to nurses in hospitals around the commonwealth. Fines would have been imposed on hospitals that did not hold to the new standards. The respective Yes and No campaigns saw the state’s largest nurses’ union – the Massachusetts Nurses Association – face off with healthcare corporations and hospitals.

Joe Markman is the Associate Communications Director for the Massachusetts Nurses Association. He says the “No” campaign spent $30 million fighting against the initiative.

“They used that money to scare people, essentially," Markman told WAMC. "To intimidate them into voting no by saying that their essential services would close, or that employees of hospitals would lose their jobs.”

He said while the Yes On One side was prepared for resistance, the effectiveness of that opposition came as a surprise.

“They’d always opposed the law in the legislature, so we weren’t surprised by the industry’s opposition to it, but the opposition was able to sort of overwhelm the public – and I guess that’s sort of what was shocking," said Markman. "By using those scare tactics and intimidation, they were able to overwhelm the public and make them think that Question One was a frightening thing rather than something that would actually improve their patient care.”

The silver lining Markman has found in the loss is that public conversation about safe nursing limits has increased.

“Nurses are now urging everyone if they’re in the hospital or their loved one is to look at those limits and ask their nurse or ask a hospital manager ‘am I safe, am I under safe conditions right now,’” he told WAMC.

“We’re very pleased with the outcome of Question 1," said Brenda Cadorette, the Chief Nursing Officer at Berkshire Medical Center. It’s the largest hospital in both the county and in the Berkshire Health Systems network — the region’s leading healthcare provider. She said a year ago, she would have been surprised by the overwhelming rejection of the bill.

“However, as we educated our community and we had those discussion on the impact, it became more and more evident that our community understood the negative impact and they did the right thing and they opposed the bill,” Cadorette told WAMC.

Asked what was next for the No On One coalition after its triumph, Cadorette spoke highly of existent services.

“Well I think the state, BMC – takes very good care of our community, and if you look at our outcomes, we rank very high across the country in the care we provide our community,” she said.

The fight over Question One looked like the latest in an ongoing feud between the nurses union and hospitals. But Cadorette presented a tranquil image of life at BMC.

“We’re focused on working together as a team, not only nursing and administration but nursing and the whole care team," she told WAMC. "Our physicians, our nursing assistants, our licensed practical nurses, and our physical therapists together.”

Related Content