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Hebrew SeniorLife Gives Front-Line Staff ‘Appreciation Pay’ During Pandemic

An N95 mask (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
An N95 mask (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
This article is more than 1 year old.

Hebrew SeniorLife, one of the biggest providers of short-term and long-term senior care in the Greater Boston area, is increasing pay for front-line staff during the coronavirus pandemic.

Approximately 1,500 employees, from nurses to culinary staff, are eligible for an "appreciation pay" raise. These front-line employees will see a 9-16% increase in their paycheck, depending on their level of regular contact with residents. The raise is retroactive to April 5 and will last through May 2.

"We instituted this [pay] program to show [employees] our appreciation, and to recognize that they were taking a risk for themselves and their families by coming to work," says Lou Woolf, Hebrew SeniorLife CEO and president. "We are a very high-touch, high-compassion health care organization. Three-quarters of our full-time staff is really on the front line in some way ... and under these circumstances, they have stepped up incredibly."

Employees not on the front line — those in leadership roles or who work for the marketing, finance and human resources departments — are not eligible for the raise.

This new "appreciation pay" comes amid news that other front-line healthcare workers in the state are facing pay cuts and layoffs as hospital revenues decline.

"The financial impact of [the pandemic] is significant for all healthcare and human services organizations — and we’re very much hoping that there is sufficient government relief to make up most of it — but regardless of that, we know that our staff deserves this kind of recognition, so we instituted this program," Woolf says.

Hebrew SeniorLife houses or treats more than 3,000 seniors every day across its seven communities in the Greater Boston area. To date, there are confirmed cases of the coronavirus at all but one HSL facility, the Center Communities of Brookline.

Last month, the Jack Satter House in Revere came under increased scrutiny after an outbreak of the virus sickened seven residents and compelled the city to put the facility under quarantine. Since then, 10 residents have died from COVID-19 and 13 others have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the number of residents who tested positive for the virus at the Jack Satter House.

This article was originally published on April 20, 2020.

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Miriam Wasser Twitter Reporter, EarthWhile
Miriam Wasser is a reporter for WBUR's environmental vertical.

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