WATERTOWN — Following a significant increase in recent vacancies, Samaritan Health is actively recruiting and has announced it is adopting a $15 minimum wage — a 19% increase from the previous $12.61 per hour.

Having seen a 50% increase in open positions since the end of 2020, Samaritan Health currently has 452 open positions for full-time, part-time and casual jobs spanning everything from food and environmental services, registration, billing, and office support to certified nursing assistants, home health aides, and licensed practical nurses.

According to Leslie M. DiStefano, director of Communication and Public Relations, the number of vacancies was around 400 just a few weeks ago, and Samaritan usually hovers around 175 to 200 job openings at any one time.

“Obviously the national job shortage, that’s impacted us and we’re all fighting for the same applicants, the same potential people,” Ms. DiStefano said. “I think the overall intent is to increase our minimum wage to entice more people to come work for us knowing there is a better wage for them with good benefits. We’re hoping that this will help us fill more positions and maintain our staff; we really want to do all that we can to fill those roles because they’re needed.”

This wage increase will benefit approximately 1,300 current employees and all new hires. Employees working the evening and night shifts will receive an additional compensating differential, according to Samaritan.

Wage increases will be implemented immediately, and Samaritan employees will still be eligible for merit-based wage increases throughout the year. Interested candidates can visit samaritanhealth.com/careers. Ms. DiStefano said Samaritan is trying to make it as easy as possible for people to apply and be interviewed quickly for its vacant jobs.

“Our workforce has shown tremendous resilience, going above and beyond to serve the health care needs of our community,” said Thomas H. Carman, president and CEO of Samaritan Health, in a statement Wednesday. “We have instituted a substantial increase in our minimum wage ..., allowing Samaritan to deliver continued outstanding care by ensuring we retain our talent while attracting new staff.”

Beyond competitive wages, Samaritan provides benefit packages that “exceed what most regional employers offer, Mr. Carman said. Employees receive paid time off, employer-contributed retirement, health insurance and more. Samaritan also provides pathways to new opportunities that help staff advance and grow their careers, offering tuition assistance benefits and on-the-job training to help employees reach the next level.

According to Ms. DiStefano, after implementing the wage increase, Samaritan has had a number of people definitely accept offers and that previously, a high percentage of employees — over 25% — left due to wages. As for the reason for so many other remaining vacancies, the answer is unknown, she said.

“Health care is a field where you can make a real difference in people’s lives and it can be an incredibly rewarding career path,” Mr. Carman said in a statement. “We hope this significant investment in our workforce motivates more members of our community to consider a position in health care.”

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