CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - One of the largest employers in Cape Girardeau and the region is making a big move to help hundreds of workers.
216 employees who work at the St. Francis Medical Center and all of healthcare system's satellite locations will soon earn $11.70 an hour starting July 8th.
"That is what the state of Missouri says is a living wage. It equates to $24,300 a year and that is 200 percent of the poverty level," said St. Francis CEO, Dr. Maryann Reese.
Rhiannon Martin, a tele-monitor attendant at the main hospital, will be earning two dollars more an hour because of the minimum wage increase.
"I was very shocked at first and very happy," Martin said. "This is definitely a much more of a substantial raise than I've ever gotten at any other job."
Martin says her job require a lot of multitasking. She keeps an eye up to 15 patients at a time by using cameras, talking to them through a mic, and can let nurses know if they need extra help. She feels like the raise is rewarding her and others for their hard work.
"It validates me being here almost," Martin said. "Even though I'm just sitting behind a monitor. I feel like I'm kind of like I'm on more equal footing with everyone else that works here because we all work as a team at St. Francis."
Reese says moving to a 'living wage' will help with the retention and recruitment of hospital employees.
She also says the change was not motivated by the market or needing more employees but by their values.
"It's caring about the dignity of each of our employees. Allowing them to sustain their families and themselves on a living wage," Reese said. "It also helps our economy. When people are making more money they're spending more money in Cape Girardeau and the surrounding area."
Martin's mom has the same job she does. While Martin just graduated from Southeast Missouri State University, her mom is starting to go back to school. Both are planning to use their extra money to help pay off their student loan debt.
"I definitely won't be stressing as much trying to get all my expenses down to the penny," Martin said. "And I will have some wiggle room to put money into savings so I can start graduate school hopefully."
Saint Francis Medical Center has nearly 2,8000 employees and more than 250 providers in 11 communities. Reese says they service about 713,000 people in Arkansas, Illinois, Tennessee and Missouri.