State House, Boston, June 30th 2014 Governor Deval Patrick, quietly signed a bill setting nurses staffing levels inside intensive care units at one nurse per patient, depending on the stability of the patient. State Representative Wayne Matewsky, Democrat – Everett, for the past year has been a strong proponent of increasing nurse staffing in intensive care units. Matewsky, has met with the Massachusetts Nurses Association and numerous nursing representatives from regional hospitals and those across the Commonwealth.
The issue of intensive care nurse staffing is personal to Matewsky as he knows firsthand in his mother’s case that one on one nurse monitoring in ICU made the difference between life and death immediately upon entering the ICU unit. “From my mother’s own medical condition I was shocked into the reality that nursing levels within ICU units in the immediate instance of illness are good but fall short in the interim of care within ICU. The lesson learned was that additional nurse staffing was required in ICU and that families and loved ones must be pro-active in monitoring care. I credit the Massachusetts Nurses Association a collaborative with a strong voice and component advocacy in bringing about the positive result of this legislation”.
Patrick’s signature on the bill (H4228) means that the union will drop two initiative petitions which were scheduled for the November ballot. Lynn Nicholas, the President & CEO of the hospital association acknowledged that the bill seeks a “ reasonable approach” and moves away from fixed staffing for all patients, in all units, at all times.
The legislation focuses on the intensive care unit were there is a collaborative role for staff nurses, specifically for those nurses that manage care for all patients in an ICU unit. This legislation provides a system that enables staff to determine the severity of an ICU patient’s illness and provides flexibility within the hospital to properly address every patient’s needs.