Officials at central Maine facilities that are part of one of the largest health systems in the state have announced they are raising hourly pay by $2 in an effort to recruit and retain workers as health care providers and other sectors of the economy continue to struggle with staffing.

The Northern Light officials announced Thursday that the starting pay for workers will increase to $17 an hour from $15 at Northern Light Inland Hospital in Waterville, Northern Light Continuing Care, Lakewood, also in Waterville, and Northern Light Sebasticook Valley Hospital in Pittsfield. The minimum wage in Maine is $12.15 an hour.

Workers at Northern Light’s Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor also will see a pay increase.

With the new starting wage, a person working 40 hours a week would make more than $35,300.

“This will help us recruit and retain the talented people we need to provide the best patient care possible,” Northern Light Director of Regional Marketing and Communications Sara Barry said in a statement. “We are always assessing staffing resources and market conditions, and we believe it’s important to continue to invest in our staff and ensure that we remain competitive.”

In a follow-up email, Barry did not specify who will see an increase.

When asked how many workers will benefit, Barry in an email said only that, “We are still analyzing the impact.”

She also said, “We are also currently assessing all positions at Inland Hospital, Continuing Care, Lakewood, and Sebasticook Valley Hospital for market competitiveness.”

The move comes as health systems struggle to keep staff who are at the forefront of a global health crisis brought by COVID-19.

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