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Meritus CEO: We can’t afford not to invest in our dedicated workforce

May 17, 2024 - Meritus Story

Hospital, health system commits to increase minimum wage to $20/hour over next two years

Meritus Health, Washington County’s only integrated health system and one of the region’s largest employers, has committed to increase its minimum wage to $20 per hour in a multi-phased approach over the next two years. In 2023, the health system increased its minimum wage from $15 per hour to $17. This most recent investment will place Meritus a leader in the region and state for healthcare pay rates.

“This is the third time in three years that we have committed to increasing our organization’s minimum wage,” said President and CEO Maulik Joshi, Dr. P.H. “Our workforce is our community, and a livable wage is so important. We simply can’t afford not to invest in our dedicated workforce.”

The first phase of the increases will begin July 1, 2024, and impact 500 frontline team members, including Medical Assistants, Certified Nursing Assistants, Phlebotomists and Emergency Department Technicians. By January 2027, all positions will have moved to the increased pay scale. As part of the investment in its workforce, Meritus is also providing a performance-based bonus structure and incentives to long-standing team members as they achieve years of service milestones. 

Joshi emphasized the health system’s goal to encourage local community members to begin a career with the health system versus a temporary job. Meritus offers employees opportunities for tuition reimbursement and educational opportunities. Joshi said many can enter the health system in a minimum wage, entry-level role, take advantage of educational benefits and earn advanced degrees and achieve higher-level career milestones and goals. Whether an employee supports the frontlines of healthcare delivery or serves in a support department, Joshi said working at Meritus means they are all healthcare workers. 

“Every single position in our organizations helps us live our mission of improving the health of the community,” Joshi said. “We can’t provide the best care without long-serving, dedicated team members. We are thrilled to offer this commitment to them.”

In 2021, Meritus increased its minimum wage to $15 an hour, four years ahead of state-mandated increases. That hike impacted 1,100 employees at an investment of $2.8 million. In 2023, the health system invested an additional $3 million to increase minimum wage to $17. Joshi said many factors, including turnover rates, cost of living and a desire of Meritus to be a nationally ranked employer influenced the decision. 

“The cost of living continues to rise and as a result, many hospitals and healthcare systems are struggling with vacancy rates, losing entry-level workers to other industries with higher starting rates. Unlike other industries, we cannot safely operate with vacancies,” he said.

“I’m honored to work with some of our community’s most talented and dedicated workers. Ensuring that we are supporting them and providing them with a livable wage is so important. They make excellent care possible in this community, and investing in them is paramount to us caring for our community.”

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Maulik Joshi, Dr.P.H.

President and Chief Executive Officer