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Which hospitals pay the highest starting wages?

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Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.Steven Senne

Low-wage workers at three major Boston teaching hospitals will get raises this year, lifting their pay to $15 an hour — the level considered a "living wage" sufficient to pay basic living expenses.

But the minimum wage at Massachusetts hospitals varies, and doesn't necessarily correspond to the earnings of the hospitals.

Some of the state's wealthier hospitals, for example, pay less than competitors with much lower revenues. Workers on the bottom of hospital pay scales include those in housekeeping, food service, and some clinical roles.

The Globe surveyed several major hospital on wages:

 Boston Medical Center, Tufts Medical Center, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center recently said they would begin raising their lowest wages to $15 an hour in 2016. BMC, a safety net hospital that serves a large population of poor and elderly patients, had revenues of nearly $1.1 billion in 2014, the most recent year for which figures are available. Tufts had revenues of about $700 million that year, while Beth Israel Deaconess collected $1.4 billion.

 But Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, the wealthiest and most renowned hospitals in Boston, pay lower starting wages.

Mass. General earned $3.3 billion in revenues — triple BMC's — but paid $12.63 an hour as its lowest wage. Brigham, which reported $2.5 billion in revenues, pays a starting wage of $13.53 an hour. Brigham and Mass. General are owned by Partners HealthCare, the state's largest and priciest health system.


But low-wage workers at the Partners hospitals might also be in line for a raise. "This is an issue we have been evaluating across the Partners system," said Partners spokesman Rich Copp.

 St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, the flagship hospital of Steward Health Care System, pays a starting wage of $12.87, which was considered a “living wage” in 2013 when Steward negotiated its last contract with the Service Employees International Union, said Brooke Thurston, a Steward spokeswoman.

The company and the union will negotiate a new contract this year. Only about two workers make the lowest wage at St. Elizabeth's, and 95 percent of the hospital's workforce is paid at least $15 per hour, Thurston said.

 Outside Boston, Lahey Hospital & Medical Center in Burlington pays a starting wage of $10 an hour, the state minimum, but most entry-level employees make at least $12 an hour, said Lahey spokesman Andrew Mastrangelo. Lahey collected $822 million in revenues in 2014.

"Our wages are competitive for our service area, and we periodically review the marketplace to ensure we remain competitive and that includes consideration of moving towards a $15 per hour minimum wage," Mastrangelo said.

 Two other big hospitals did not disclose starting wages. Rob Graham, a spokesman for Boston Children’s Hospital, with 2014 revenues of about $1.4 billion, said the hospital is committed to giving employees “a living wage that’s competitive in the marketplace.” UMass Memorial Medical Center of Worcester said its starting wage is less than $15 an hour, but did not specify the rate. “We will continue to assess our wage rates against the market to ensure that we attract and retain the best employees while maintaining the affordability of care,” spokesman Tony Berry said.

Priyanka Dayal McCluskey can be reached at priyanka.mccluskey-@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @priyanka_dayal.