Southern Illinois Hospitals Raise Wages, Invest in Workforce to Stabilize Care During Pandemic | Health care


Healthcare workers normally face work-related stress, but working with an unknown new virus during a pandemic has multiplied these stressors.

“We have recognized that staff have been under unreasonable pressure in the 18 months during this pandemic. It was hard; it has been incredibly difficult, ”said SIH President and CEO Rex Budde.

At the start of the pandemic, hospital staff were taking care of patients and trying to determine the best way to treat symptoms of COVID-19. Nothing existed to help prevent the disease from spreading.

Since the most contagious Delta variant began hitting hospitals in mid-July, Budde said the conversation with staff has changed.

“Just caring for people who are so sick and dying is emotionally draining. And besides… it didn’t have to happen. You know, if people had been vaccinated, they wouldn’t have been there, ”Budde said.

President Joe Biden will travel to Chicago on Thursday, continuing his campaign highlighting the need for vaccines to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

SIH Vice President of Human Resources Pam Henderson and her team took a look at how SIH paid its employees, given the difficulty of weathering the pandemic.

“We changed our philosophy a bit and offered adjustments to the market that I think included benefits totaling some $ 13 million, in terms of increases for those closest to the bedside,” Budde said.

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Market adjustments included: increasing base wages from $ 12.14 per hour to $ 14 per hour; increase the starting salary for patient care technicians to $ 15 per hour; increase the hourly wage for licensed staff nurses by $ 4.15 per hour; increase hourly wages for additional direct care clinicians such as respiratory therapists, physiotherapists and physiotherapists, laboratory technicians, imaging specialists and others.

“It wasn’t a one-time bonus, it was an increase in their base pay,” Budde said.

In addition, eligible employees received a 3% merit increase in addition to market adjustments.

He added that pay increases were a way to take care of people, stabilize the workforce, say thank you and make working in health care attractive.

Henderson believes employees are happy with the new pay levels.

“They are very happy with it. They are very grateful. We’re still getting all the details, but it kind of gave a little spark back. You tell people that you appreciate them, but it actually shows them that they are appreciated. It’s gone a long way, ”said Henderson.

A nurse leader portrays a patient involved in a motor vehicle accident during a trauma exercise November 1, 2019 at Memorial Hospital in Carbondale. The hospital is the only trauma center in Illinois south of Springfield.

Byron Hetzler

She said hiring managers were also receiving more applications. Last week, the SIH received 1,300 applications. A total of 68 new employees have started, of which 49 or 50 are in the process of integration.

In late September, SIH leaders said they were advertising more than 600 positions, most of which were unrelated to the mandate of the COVID-19 vaccination system.

At the time, SIH also reported that 97.4% of the organization’s employees were vaccinated against COVID-19 or had received at least one dose of the vaccine. About 160 employees, plus 60 at Harrisburg Medical Center, voluntarily resigned or had their jobs terminated for failing to meet the vaccine mandate.

SIH employs a total of 3,600 to 3,700 people. Henderson said the number changes daily.

“It’s not just the wages, not just one thing. We also have a new director of talent acquisition who has a lot of great creative ideas. It’s a combination of all of those things, ”said Henderson.

Other health care providers in the region are also assessing their workforce.

SSM Health, which operates Good Samaritan Hospital in Mount Vernon, announced it will implement a new minimum wage of $ 15 an hour across its four-state system on October 10.

This increase will impact nearly 3,000 team members in Missouri, Illinois, Oklahoma and Wisconsin, or about 7% of the total workforce of nearly 40,000 SSM Health employees.

“As a leading employer in each of our communities, our continued commitment is to foster a diverse, inclusive and equitable workplace, which includes providing fair and socially just wages and benefits for employees. members of our team, as well as strong programs and resources designed to promote wellness. Said Laura S. Kaiser, President and CEO of SSM Health.

Reva Weems, regional director of employee relations for Quorum Health, said their local property, Heartland Regional Medical Center, currently employs 430 people, many of whom – over 64% – have been there for five years or more.

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“Like almost every hospital in the country, we continue our efforts to recruit and retain qualified nurses as we manage the continuing impact of COVID-19. At present, we have a wide range of vacancies in our hospital and associated clinics. The specific number of open positions varies from day to day and the number of applications is consistent with what we typically receive in years without a pandemic, ”Weems said.

Some of the benefits associated with hospital employment include: registration bonuses for certain positions; outstanding shift and weekend wages; vacation, sick leave and paid leave; medical, dental and visual benefits for full-time and part-time employees; eligibility for study assistance after an introductory period of 90 days; and a 401k.

President Joe Biden will travel to Chicago on Thursday, continuing his campaign highlighting the need for vaccines to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

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