Luminis Health, a health system with hospitals in Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties, Tuesday announced its plans to invest $29 million into employee salaries and benefits, including raising its minimum wage to $17 an hour. The health system employs approximately 6,700 people.
These changes come as hospitals nationwide struggle with staffing shortages and low worker morale caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Maryland and nationwide remain high (though declining over the past week) despite the prevalence of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Throughout the pandemic, our employees consistently carried out the mission of Luminis Health– enhancing the health of the people and communities we serve through our RISE values (Respect, Inclusion, Service, Excellence),” said Victoria Bayless, CEO of Luminis Health, in a press release. “These financial investments will help Luminis Health stay competitive, as well as address staffing shortages that impact hospitals across the country.”
The starting salary for newly graduated nurses will increase, and the health system will also “realign” its salaries for “high demand, high vacancy positions in support services and allied health.” This change seeks to improve pay for non-nursing positions that are also in high demand right now, such as technicians, respiratory therapists and medical assistants.
New benefits will include:
- upfront tuition assistance, rather than the existing model that reimburses employees’ tuition payments;
- a new loan repayment program for full-time bedside registered nurses who have been at Luminis for three or more years;
- full-time health benefit premiums for most part-time employees;
- bonuses for full-time bedside RNs with more than 20 years of experience;
- bonuses for other employees based on salary and hours worked;
- a single retirement plan for all Luminis employees;
- a New RN Weekender Program that will allow for flexible work shifts and will allow non-weekender nurses to work fewer weekends.
Many of these changes have already been implemented, while others will go into effect in the coming months, according to Sherry Perkins, president of Anne Arundel Medical Center, part of Luminis Health.
Perkins said the increase to the health system’s minimum wage sought to ensure that all employees were making a living wage, no matter where they live.
“That’s what drove us to make this commitment,” she said.
AAMC and Doctors Community Health System combined to form Luminis Health in September 2019; the former raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour the previous January, and the latter followed suit in January 2020.
Since then, numerous other health systems in the state, including the University of Maryland Medical System, one of the largest health care providers in Maryland, have also implemented a $15 minimum wage. Luminis is the first health system in the state to commit to a $17 minimum wage.