o'bleness hospital sign

The South Shafer Street entrance to OhioHealth O'Bleness Hospital in Athens.

OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital announced last week that an agreement had been reached with the union representing some of its employees to increase their minimum starting wage from $12.07 to $15 per hour.

This means that more than 225 employees at O’Bleness will receive a pay increase in February, according to a release issued Thursday, Jan. 16.

This agreement with AFSCME local chapter 1252, the union representing OhioHealth O’Bleness’ maintenance, office staff and nursing associates, comes after OhioHealth brought a $15 minimum wage to “associates” across its entire system as of this past November. That wage increase already had been brought to 150 non-union OhioHealth employees in the “southeast Ohio” region in November, the release explained.

“One of the most important things we can do for our associates and for the health of our community is to make sure we pay people fairly,” Mark Seckinger, president of OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital, said in the release. “That means each and every associate – regardless of where they work or the job they perform.”

According to the release, OhioHealth defines “fair pay” as compensation that is “equitable within OhioHealth and competitive with its external market.”

“For some jobs, however, the external market rate may be insufficient,” the release said. “Ohio’s state minimum wage of $8.70 per hour is not enough to enable people to support themselves and their families.”

This minimum wage increase initiative was part of a larger review of compensation at O’Bleness, according to the release.

Earlier in 2019, O’Bleness approached AFSCME chapter 1252 after recognizing there’s a nationwide shortage of bedside nurses, seeking to increase compensation for those employees. About 135 O’Bleness nurses received additional compensation after a plan was voted on by the AFSCME chapter, the release explained.

“As one of the largest employers in Athens County, we are happy and proud to be able to offer this increase,” Seckinger said in the release. “I want to thank the AFSCME leadership for their partnership and for ultimately helping improve the economic status of our associates and our communities.”


IN OTHER NEWS, OhioHealth O’Bleness is in the process of a major transition of its electronic medical records system. This is unrelated to the compensation review mentioned above.

As a result of that system being implemented, approximately 30 associates in the hospital’s business office either will be “redeployed to other jobs with OhioHealth”; continue working at OhioHealth O’Bleness in other positions; or will or have chosen to “separate from O’Bleness with a generous severance package.” That’s according to a statement issued Wednesday from OhioHealth spokesperson Keely Stockwell.

“O’Bleness and AFSCME Local 1252 continue to work together to finalize the impacted associates’ transition,” Stockwell wrote. “No associates have been involuntarily laid off due to the implementation of the new medical records system, and the hospital is not currently aware of any associate who will be involuntarily laid off as a result of the new system.”

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