Freeman to boost minimum wage pay

·2 min read

Sep. 17—Freeman Health System, Joplin's largest employer, became the third regional health care system to implement a pay bump to $15 an hour for its employees earning minimum wage, it announced this week.

Last month, Mercy announced a pay hike for its starting wage to $15 per hour, as part of an $18 million investment by the not-for-profit Catholic health care organization. The same week, Springfield-based CoxHealth announced an entry-level wage increase to $15.25 for its workers, including those at hospitals in nearby Lamar and Monett.

Freeman's wage hike goes into effect Sunday, Oct. 10. Additional market adjustments will be made for employees "who are making more than the basic minimum" in hourly wages, said Paula Baker, president and CEO.

Baker did not specify how many employees would be affected by the wage increase.

"One of Freeman's goals is to be the best place to give and receive care. We believe a $15 minimum wage will help us continue to do just that," she said in a statement. "This increase will affect people who work the front lines to care for our patients and keep them safe, and we want to ensure these health care heroes are generously compensated."

The decision to raise wages, Baker said, is based on competition across the country "to recruit and retain the best individuals to fill openings at every level."

"We consider all Freeman Health System staff members to be caregivers, whether they work at the patient's bedside or support those who do," Baker said. "This includes housekeepers, groundskeepers, food servers, cooks, office staff and many others. In order to provide the best care to our patients, it's essential that we have the best people on our team."

Freeman employs approximately 4,700 people among Freeman Hospital West, Freeman Hospital East, Freeman Neosho Hospital and Ozark Center, as well as two urgent care clinics, dozens of physician clinics and a variety of specialty services.

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