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home : opinion : letters to the editor November 25, 2015

2/20/2013 2:36:00 PM
Standards of Care Act could hurt hospital's high-ranking quality care

Standards of Care Act could hurt hospital's high-ranking quality care
We are writing to express grave concerns about SF 471/HF 588, known as the Standards of Care Act.
Proponents of the bill assert it is necessary to ensure hospitals deliver high quality, safe patient care. This legislation isn't about standards of care, it's about government mandated staffing quotas.
Windom Area Hospital is committed to providing the highest quality care possible to our patients, and that includes maintaining safe staffing levels of registered nurses and other medical professionals at our facility. We are accomplishing that goal right now by empowering nurse professionals to make staffing decisions based on the skills and experience of our nurses and the needs of our patients.
We believe that our staff members are the best qualified to determine what our patients need and when. Having St. Paul mandate staffing would disrupt this ideal arrangement, complicating our ability to meet the care needs of our patients.
At Windom Area Hospital, delivering high quality patient care is the primary objective and utmost priority - our dedicated staff bristles at any suggestion to the contrary.
We are proud that Minnesota consistently ranks at or near the top of the nation in health care quality. For example, in 2011, the Agency for Health care Research and Quality ranked Minnesota #1 in the U.S. in overall quality. Additionally, the most recent Commonwealth Fund Scorecard on Local Health System Performance ranked Minnesota in the top quartile in the nation.
California is the only state to have adopted a policy similar to SF 471 / HF 588. Despite having been in effect since 2004, the mandated nurse staffing ratios have not demonstrated an increase in quality or patient safety.
However, the consequences of this policy have included: the closure of some patient-care units; diversion of emergency department patients; increased cost of care; frustration among nurses over a loss of autonomy to deliver patient care; and difficulty juggling the logistics of dealing with rigid ratios and other labor laws.
Put simply, staffing quotas are a solution in search of a problem that could complicate our ability to provide care and jeopardize patient access to services.
 - Gerri Burmeister,
   FACHE, Administrator
   Kari Witte, RN/BSN,
  Director of Patient Care

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