Sentara Health thanks employees with bonuses and pay raises

It is impossible to adequately thank all those on the frontlines of healthcare for their service during the pandemic. But…every effort helps.

With this in mind, Sentara Healthcare recently took steps to express our appreciation with “gifts of gratitude,” up to $1,500, to our team of heroes – 28,000+ strong across Virginia and eastern North Carolina. This is, as the expression goes, only money. My hope, however, is that this gift, along with an upcoming three percent across-the-board merit increase for all eligible team members conveys to our extraordinary team of professionals how much we respect and appreciate them as they continue to improve health every day.

We also proudly announced a new starting minimum wage of $15 for our team members – more than twice the federal minimum wage and eight months ahead of our scheduled implementation. We’ve taken this step because we value the work and commitment of our Sentara family in every job, at every level, and believe that ensuring all team members earn a living wage reflects the respect we have for the invaluable contributions each makes to our team.

Today, more than a year after the first COVID patients were admitted to our hospitals, Sentara’s team members continue to face down their own fears and anxieties to help others in their time of greatest need. They continue to show up and stand up for their patients and for their communities as the virus steers its dangerous and deadly path. And like all those who make healthcare their calling, we are all better for the extraordinary people they are.

Ultimately, the virus will lose its power, and we will all return to the things we miss and love. Until then, however, it is our nation’s healthcare workers who still put on their PPE, who care for patients who are still terribly sick, and who dedicate themselves to seeing this mission through until the threat has passed.

I hope that all Virginians and North Carolinians will sign up for their vaccine when their turn comes and perhaps help those who struggle to navigate online appointments or get to a vaccination site. You have my word that we’ll do our part through the dozens of vaccine clinics we are sponsoring in partnership with local health departments and other organizations. We are honored to be part of this nationwide effort – record-making in its speed – to inoculate millions of Americans every day.

There is no end to my pride in the Sentara team and more broadly in all of our healthcare colleagues throughout Virginia and North Carolina who similarly served their communities during a pandemic few of us would have predicted, and that none of us will forget.

I know that the true motivation behind their hard work is the health and wellbeing of the communities we serve. Our patients are our families, friends and neighbors.  We are very thankful for the recognition that many of you have shown our Sentara colleagues to date. I hope you will join me in a chorus of appreciation for their continued dedication to improving health every day in our communities.

 Howard P. Kern is President and CEO of Sentara Healthcare, a not-for-profit integrated health system headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia.