ASHLAND — Bon Secours Mercy Health, of which Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital is a member, announced a new compensation model designed to enable its associates and their families to enjoy a dignified livelihood while working and in retirement.

“At Bon Secours Mercy Health, our associates answer an important calling as they deliver compassionate care to our patients and communities,” said Joe Gage, chief human resources officer at Bon Secours Mercy Health. “We are proud to provide our associates a dignified livelihood, which includes a competitive living wage, affordable access to health care, and other programs that support their well-being in body, mind and spirit.”

Gage said the living wage initiative will be accomplished by a phased approach from now to 2022, bringing Bon Secours Mercy Health’s minimum wage to $15 per hour, adjusted for cost-of-living variances, in all of the health system’s U.S. markets.

He said this change will affect more than 8,100 associates, or 14% of the health system’s 60,000 employees, amounting to an additional $17 million investment in associate pay in the next three years.

Exceptions to this change include union workers whose wages are negotiated as part of their collective bargaining agreements, which represents approximately 7% of the health system’s workforce, and the Ireland market, which joined the health system in 2019.

To be an employer of choice, Bon Secours Mercy Health uses salary surveys to annually evaluate and refine associate compensation, according to Gage. Data from the Economic Research Institute is also used to calculate the cost of living among the more than 10 markets the health system serves in the U.S., he added.

“The Catholic health system is a member of the Health Anchor Network (HAN), which also sets compensation standards and encourages members to provide a living wage,” he said. “With this accelerated model, Bon Secours Mercy Health will exceed HAN’s compensation standards.”

Gage says in addition to wages, the health system’s definition of a dignified livelihood includes comprehensive and affordable medical coverage; generous paid time off; a well-being program for body, mind and spirit; LifeMatters work/life services for life’s challenges; and comprehensive savings and retirement programs.

“I’m excited about this refinement to our compensation philosophy. It’s the right thing to do for our associates, and it’s one more way that we ensure Bon Secours Mercy Health is the place where people want to work, sharing their talents, skills and passions in support of Jesus’ healing ministry,” Gage said.

For more information concerning OLBH, visit BonSecours.com.

Follow reporter Fred Pace at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter @FredPaceHD.

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