Health

Mercy announces minimum wage increase, general pay bump

A health care worker sits in a screening area outside Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids in March. (Rebecca F. Miller/
A health care worker sits in a screening area outside Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids in March. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Officials have approved a minimum-wage increase for Mercy Medical Center and MercyCare Community Physicians employees beginning the first of the year.

The minimum wage will increase to $15.25 per hour, according to a news release. Eligible employees also will see a 2 percent general wage increase throughout the fiscal year, starting in January.

The board of trustees for the Cedar Rapids-based hospital and physician group announced the minimum wage increase on Tuesday, along with a general wage increase for eligible employees beginning in January.

Mercy officials say the wage increase and raises were prompted by the “extraordinarily challenging year” faced by employees at Mercy, as many have been on the front lines responding to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic and dealt with the effects of the derecho that tore through the community in August.

The wage increase is an acknowledgment of the critical services employees have offered, despite these challenges, according to officials.

“We feel it’s important, now more than ever, that we demonstrate a strong commitment to employees, providing a fair wage that ensures they can support themselves and their families and be a sustaining force in supporting our local economy,” said Mercy President and Chief Executive Officer Tim Charles.

Mercy officials stated the pay increase underscores the hospital’s financial strength and “its long-standing ability to taking a disciplined approach to financial decisions,” according to the release.

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More than 200 Mercy employees were furloughed or placed on leave in October due to the significant financial challenges that faced the Cedar Rapids hospital as a result of the pandemic. Suspending elective procedures in the spring was a major blow to its profit margin, and officials said they did not see as many patients return to outpatient services this year.

The Cedar Rapids hospital has not been alone in these challenges. According to a recent report from the Iowa Hospital Association, hospitals across the state lost as much as $433 million in March through October as a result of COVID-19.

“This past year has posed many challenges, yet we have forged ahead and continued to serve our community when it has needed us most,” Charles stated in the news release.

“These pay increases help us remain competitive as an employer. But, they mean more than that; they represent the progressiveness of our organization and allow us to hold true to the fundamental principles upon which this organization was built.”

Comments: (319) 398-8469; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

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