CRH raises worker pay, bolsters reputation

Columbus Regional Health says it’s “committed to a compensation philosophy that recruits, motivates, rewards and retains highly talented team members.” CRH put its money where its mouth is recently, announcing a new minimum starting wage of $15 an hour.

This is much more than just good news for people who work at CRH. It’s a bold if not necessary strategy for the health care provider to attract and retain staff to continue to provide a high level of service. Staffing can be a challenge in healthcare in the best of times, let alone when there is a pandemic weighing on staff and resources.

The raises increase baseline pay at CRH from the current minimum of $12.75 an hour, effective Oct. 24, and includes raises for staff members making less than $15 an hour. CRH will stake an additional investment of $1.7 million in the healthcare system’s workforce. CRH says about 580 of its roughly 2,200 employees can expect to see a bump in their paychecks soon.

For CRH workers who will receive a raise, it may feel like a welcome acknowledgement of all they have been through, all the stresses they have endured, during these many tiresome months of the COVID pandemic.

It’s unquestionably great news for the workforce and the local economy. But the news is also a win for CRH: Setting a minimum wage that’s twice the national rate signals to the community that CRH is committed to retaining its place as a premier employer.

This significant emphasis on wage increases further demonstrates to the local workforce that CRH is an employer doing all it can to provide a living wage to its employees.

Given the recent volatility of the labor market and fierce competition for talent, CRH’s raise announcement was well-timed. In an era when entry-level retail and service jobs may pay hourly wages of $12 or more, workers have many choices. CRH’s raise plan burnishes its reputation as a regional employer of choice for workers with a wide range of skills.

But the raises also come as healthcare workers in general are in desperate need nationwide. In Indiana, for example, the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration predicts that by the year 2030, the state will have 26% fewer licensed practical nurses than needed to meet expected patient demand.

At the same time, federal labor statistics forecast the healthcare sector will be the fastest-growing piece of the American economy at least through the year 2030.

So the decision to raise wages for CRH staff makes sense now and for the future. And it just may help tip the scales for local people who may be weighing a possible career in healthcare.

There is no shortage of good works carried out by healthcare workers. Whether those works involve directly treating patients, caring for their needs by helping to feed them or simply offering a kind word while cleaning a room, healthcare industry workers deserve our respect. They also deserve to earn a decent living, and money talks.

But the truth is, the best healthcare workers aren’t really in it for the money. They do what they do because they care about people. They do what they do because they have a need to help us, often when we can’t help ourselves.

When you think about their selfless sacrifices, we can never thank them enough for what they do. But guaranteeing them at least $15 an hour is a start.