Mayors Oppose Question 1, and more...

Mayors Across Massachusetts Announce Opposition to Question 1

Six mayors from across the Commonwealth are the latest to publicly urge voting NO on Question 1 on the state’s November ballot. Led by Melrose Mayor Gail Infurna, a registered nurse, the mayors last week sent a joint letter urging other municipal leaders to oppose the rigid nurse staffing ratio mandate proposed in the ballot question. If approved, this dangerous, one-size-fits-all measure will increase costs for community hospitals by hundreds of millions of dollars and force some of the most vulnerable hospitals to close.

Mayors Paul Heroux of Attleboro, Robert Hedlund of Weymouth, Jon Mitchell of New Bedford, Donna Holaday of Newburyport and Mark Hawke of Gardner also signed the letter. All six mayors represent cities that are home to a local hospital and cite the mandate’s lack of flexibility for rural or small community providers - holding them to the same staffing ratios as major Boston teaching institutions -  as a major concern.

“We have joined the Coalition to Protect Patient Safety, the American Nurses Association of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Medical Society, and other leading healthcare organizations in opposition to this misguided, dangerous proposal and are urging our fellow mayors to do the same,” the letter reads. “We are concerned by the many negative impacts this proposed law would have on our local hospitals and the communities they serve, especially outside of the Boston metro area.”

Leading nursing and other state and local healthcare organizations, as well as nearly 50 business associations, have joined the Coalition to Protect Patient Safety in opposing Question 1 in order to protect the Massachusetts healthcare system and its patients from the consequences of this rigid and costly mandate. “Vote NO on 1!” bumper stickers, buttons, lawn signs and more can now be ordered or reserved on the Coalition’s website here.

Mass. Hospitals Included in US News & World Report "Best Hospitals"

Last week, U.S. News & World Report released their popular annual “Best Hospitals” rankings, which evaluate hospitals across the country both overall and in 16 medical specialties.

Massachusetts General Hospital was ranked #4 and Brigham and Women’s Hospital #20 overall nationally, earning them spots on the U.S. News annual Honor Roll. Boston Children’s Hospital was ranked the #1 children’s hospital in the country for the 5th year running.

Massachusetts hospitals were also named among the top hospitals regionally, including Baystate Medical Center, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, Tufts Medical Center, Boston Medical Center, and Southcoast Health.
Other MHA member hospitals recognized for excellence in one or more medical specialty included: McLean Hospital at #1 for psychiatry; Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital/MGH, ranked #2 for rehabilitation; Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, ranked #4 for cancer care; and Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary/MGH, which was ranked #4 for ophthalmology and #6 for Ear, Nose, and Throat care.

MHA’s own PatientCareLink website also provides important quality and patient safety information for patients, caregivers and loved ones. Among other things, PCL has detailed information about staffing plans for nearly every hospital unit in Massachusetts, as well as hospital-specific results on quality performance measures, and certain nationally recognized best practices from the federal government’s Hospital Compare website and Hospital Improvement Innovation Network.

Governor Baker Signs Opioid and Alzheimer's Legislation

Last week, Gov. Charlie Baker signed two pieces of legislation of interest to the hospital community – a first-in-the-nation law designed to improve the diagnosis and treatment of individuals with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, and the latest effort to further address substance use disorder prevention and treatment in the state.

The Alzheimer’s law includes a requirement that all Massachusetts hospitals have detailed operational plans in place by 2021 for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and various kinds of dementia. Pat Noga, RN, PhD, MHA’s Vice President for Clinical Affairs, noted MHA’s support for the new law and said the association and member hospitals, in collaboration with the Alzheimer’s Association, are already moving forward with this effort, and MHA will be releasing recommended guidelines in the early fall for hospitals to utilize in implementing such plans.

The opioid law requires hospitals to offer Opioid Agonist Treatment (OAT) for opioid use disorders, and ensure that patients are connected to critical continuing services. It also clears licensed certified social workers and other licensed healthcare providers to administer substance use disorder evaluations (SUDEs) in hospital emergency departments, streamlines reporting on the frequency and location of SUDEs, and calls for integration of the state’s prescription monitoring program (MassPAT) into all hospitals’ electronic medical record systems. There is also specific language allowing partial-fill prescriptions for certain narcotic drugs, while permitting patients to obtain the remainder of the prescription later, if necessary, at no additional cost.

Steve Walsh, MHA’s president & CEO, said “MHA and the hospital community stand as committed partners to the legislature, Governor Baker and his administration, and all other healthcare stakeholders to implement this comprehensive legislation, which we believe will support the needs of patients and help defeat the scourge of opioid addiction.”

Caring for the Caregiver Update

Over the past year, MHA has worked with its members across the commonwealth to address issues of workplace safety and wellbeing. Part of this effort has involved the creation of MHA’s Promoting Employee Wellbeing Committee, and launch of the “Caring for the Caregiver” initiative.

With its mission to acknowledge the valued contributions of hospital staff and support them with resources to enhance the safety of their work environment and well-being, the “Caring for the Caregiver” initiative is focusing on three areas:

Employee Recognition & Gratitude
Workplace Safety
Employee Wellbeing

Now, throughout the Massachusetts hospital community, efforts are proceeding – in various stages – to create programs to advance these three core pillars. Members and key stakeholders have contributed to the unveiling of a new webpage on MHA’s PatientCareLink website featuring resources, step-by-step guides, and best-practices that are now underway. For example, the site contains samples of employee recognition and award programs, resources to prevent violence in the workplace and models for workplace wellness programs to promote employee wellbeing. Please visit the Caring for the Caregiver site often to view the accumulating resources and gain ideas and inspiration for your organization.

WalletHub Rates Best States to Have a Baby: Massachusetts is #2

Online financial analyst WalletHub is out with its latest national healthcare evaluation – the best places in America to have a baby – and the report ranks Massachusetts 2nd nationwide. To determine where the best places were in America to have a child, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 26 key measures including cost, accessibility and family-friendliness. The report showed New England was the best region of the country to have a baby, with four of the top six states in the rankings located in the region, and all New England states listed in the top 17.

John LoDico, Editor