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Hospital announces $11M in pay raises, benefits

by KIANNA GARDNER
Daily Inter Lake | March 22, 2021 2:10 PM

The Kalispell Regional Healthcare Board of Trustees recently approved $10.8 million in pay raises and benefit enhancements for the hospital network’s non-union employees.

That’s according to a Monday news release that said this is the fifth wage and/or benefit enhancement the organization has implemented in the last nine months.

As one example, the organization upgraded its retirement plan for employees and adjusted compensation for nearly 50 job codes.

Several months before that, the health-care system invested more than $7 million in compensation, benefits and human resources enhancements when it raised the minimum at Kalispell Regional from $8.50 to $13 per hour for non-clinical staff, such as medical coders and receptionists, and to $14 per hour for clinical staff.

Those not on the minimum wage scale received a 3% wage increase as well. Exceptions to that across-the-board raise included executive leadership and those in the nurses union.

Now, the nearly $11 million in pay increases and benefit adjustments will move the minimum wage upward once again.

The non-clinical minimum is now $14 per hour and those who already were making that will now earn $15 per hour. The adjustments will impact the vast majority of the workforce, but will once again exclude unionized nursing staff.

“Unionized nursing staff must adhere to bargaining rules, which prevents KRH [Kalispell Regional Healthcare] from making any changes to terms and conditions of employment, therefore, those employees are not eligible for the wage and benefit adjustments,” the press release stated.

Kalispell Regional employs around 670 registered nurses who are represented by the labor union. The nurses and hospital management have been working for more than 18 months to settle their first contract.

In a prepared statement, Kalispell Regional Healthcare Chief Executive Officer Dr. Craig Lambrecht said the decision to implement the pay adjustments came after a series of annual employee meetings. He said he was impressed by staffs’ willingness to learn about the hospital’s future, which will entail a network-wide rebrand to Logan Health, and their “energy in moving forward together.”

“The essential work we do every day in caring for our communities especially during this past year with COVID is a testament to our employees’ perseverance, sense of family and most importantly their commitment to each other and this organization,” Lambrecht said. “I am proud of how our teams weathered the COVID storm and how they went above and beyond to make our response the best in Montana. Our patients are at the heart of every decision we make and we are honored to serve them.”

Reporter Kianna Gardner may be reached at 758-4407 or kgardner@dailyinterlake.com