Question 1 Defeated at the Polls: Voters Reject Mandated Nurse Staffing Levels

The No on Question 1 voters won out at the polls Tuesday, rejecting mandated nurse staffing limits. (File photograph)

The voters have spoken and mandated nurse staffing limits will not be imposed in Massachusetts. Following a hotly contested—and costly—Yes on 1 campaign spearheaded by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, union President Donna Kelly-Williams conceded defeat just after 9 p.m. during prepared remarks.

As a result of Tuesday’s balloting, there will now not be a limit on how many patients that can be assigned to one registered nurse at hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

“We are all disappointed by tonight's results and the impact this will have on the patients we care for every day,” Kelly-Williams said. “We know that right now—as I speak to you here—there are nurses caring for too many patients and those patients are unnecessarily being put in harm's way. And the problem continues to grow every year. The status quo is not a solution here.”

The 23,000-member strong Association sponsored the ballot question, facing opposition from the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association.

“The voters deserve better, and this issue is now in the public and outside of the hospital. Nurses have engaged the public outside of the workplace like never before,” said Kelly-Williams, who offered a last-minute pitch to Haverhill-area voters Monday on WHAV’s Open Mic Show. “The standards of nursing care should not be determined by your zip code or socioeconomic status. All patients deserve a safe standard of care. This fight won’t be over until we achieve the equity that all of our patients deserve.”

According to statistics cited by the Boston Globe, an approval of Question 1 would have required hospitals to hire more than 3,000 additional nurses at a statewide cost of more than $900 million annually.

Kelly-Williams and her team vowed Tuesday to keep fighting.

Summed up the union boss: “Tomorrow is a new day and we’ll awaken ready to continue the fight for our patients.”