You don’t have to be an economist to see that a national recession is looming, if not already here. The warning signs are plentiful. Companies are cutting costs and laying off staff because the cost burden is simply too much to bear. Families are struggling to keep up with record-high inflation at the grocery store and gas pump.
There’s no shortage of news stories highlighting the hard times families are facing.
Western North Carolina isn’t immune to those issues. Folks across our region are struggling to make ends meet. We’re making hard decisions every day as we try to stretch our dollars as far as possible. It’s estimated that inflation is costing North Carolinians more than $600 per month.
That’s why I was pleased to see a bright spot in our otherwise dim news cycle.
The biggest health employer in the region, Mission Health, announced it was giving employees an extremely well-deserved raise to the tune of $22 million.
After the grueling years of the COVID-19 pandemic and the countless sacrifices they made, frontline health care workers deserve a pay raise more than anyone.
While the rest of the world adjusted to the new realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, our doctors and nurses quickly stepped up, risking their own health and quality of life. They worked long shifts at the hospital while many of us stayed home.
We owe our doctors and nurses a debt of gratitude.
At a time when so many businesses are forced to make tough cuts, it’s encouraging to see a company reward its workers for a job well done.
Mission’s salary increase is also a stark contrast to how several other North Carolina hospitals have operated during this period.
Nonprofit hospitals in our state receive significant tax breaks with the expectation that they will, in turn, use those savings on charitable care for the needy.
But reports have demonstrated that North Carolina’s nonprofit hospitals are not holding up that end of the deal. They’re missing the mark on providing the charity care they are required to in order to receive their tax-exempt status.
Usually when a staff feels valued by their employer, they perform better. In a hospital, happy doctors and nurses lead to happy patients, which benefits the entire community.
These raises are a direct investment that supports the entire Western North Carolina community.
So, in a sea of bad news, I’m thankful that Mission Health has provided some much-needed good news for its employees, patients and our community.
Sen. Ralph Hise represents the 47th District in the General Assembly and lives in Spruce Pine.