As part of an effort to "give all full-time employees the ability to earn a self-sustaining income," the MetroHealth System on Friday announced it had raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour.

The change is effective immediately for 928 out of 7,800 employees, the hospital said in a news release. Of those, 203 will make the new minimum while another 725 will see hourly wages above $15. The average wage increase is 12.1 percent.

MetroHealth president and CEO Akram Boutros, MD, FACHE, issued the following statement:

"MetroHealth’s mission is to care for everyone and that includes our employees. It’s important, at every level of the organization, that the 7,800 people here who spend their days caring for others know how important they are, feel valued and are able to support their families. Their financial health is just as important as their physical health."

The positions now making $15 an hour include entry-level positions such as patient transport, food services, and maintenance. Greeters, unit secretaries, and pharmacy technicians are also among those seeing a wage increase.

Julie Albers, president of AFSCME Local 3360 at MetroHealth, said:

"Since Dr. Boutros has been the CEO of The MetroHealth System, the Union and administration have enjoyed a collaborative relationship. The increase of our minimum wage to $15 per hour reflects that collaborative effort and the generosity of this administration. Our members will be able to have a greater work-life balance, live healthier lives and earn a living wage for their work."

MetroHealth cited a study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology which claims a two-parent, two-child household in Cuyahoga County needs an income of at least $61,734 per year for an "adequate" standard of living. Officials say this latest move "ensures that two adults working in entry-level positions would make a self-sustaining living wage."

MetroHealth's previous minimum wage had been $12.48 an hour, still well above Ohio's rate of $8.55 and the national rate of $7.25. They are not the first local health provider to go to $15, as Cleveland Clinic did the same back in December.