Mercy Health offers housing incentives to employees

Josh Walker had never been to Springfield before he interviewed for a position at Mercy Health late last year.

Now Walker not only has a new job as the director of pharmacy for Springfield and Urbana, but he will soon have a new home, too. He and his family are building a house and expect to move to Springfield later this year – in part, thanks to the housing incentives offered by Mercy Health.

“Once the offer was made, I knew this was a great opportunity for me and my career,” Walker says. “But we didn’t want to forget about the family, too.”

Moving from Columbus, his commute will drop from 50 minutes each way to 10 minutes, giving him more time to spend with his wife, Gabi, and 19-month-old son, Jack. Plus, he wanted to both live and work within a single community.

Relocation packages and other housing incentives – such as a down payment assistance program that Mercy is planning to roll out later this year – help to attract employees and build community within Springfield, says Adam Groshans, president of Mercy Health – Springfield.

“Compensation only goes so far,” he says. “I think the relocation incentives Mercy Health offers are a differentiator.”

Those incentives reach beyond covering the costs of a move and include additional help for qualified employees, such as preparing a house to go on the market and providing temporary housing until the associate has found a more permanent home.

“Not to mention, Springfield is a great place to live and work, which some people may overlook given our proximity to bigger cities,” Groshans says. “So it’s also a chance to show off our community and help them understand what a great place this is and that you can love where you live while doing what you love.”

At Walker’s interview, the Mercy team “made a really good pitch” for Springfield, and he has collected a list of things to do and places to visit, such as The Westcott House, Mother Stewart’s Brewing Company and COhatch Springfield.

“Just the rich history and culture and architecture of the buildings was something I had no idea about,” Walker says.

He was sold on Springfield. Then he found out how Mercy Health would help his family move.

“I was mind-blown, to be honest,” he says.

Walker was offered a coordinator to act as a point-person throughout the process, as well as reimbursement for expenses as his family hunted for houses. When the time comes to sell his current home, he will be eligible for other incentives, such as reimbursement to clean the home to prepare it for sale.

“They’ve thought of everything to help you feel as comfortable and as supported as you could in this process,” Walker says.

Mercy Health’s upcoming down payment assistance program is expected to further attract new employees in addition to giving current associates the opportunity to live closer to where they work. The hospital has more than 2,000 employees, and many commute from Dayton, Cincinnati, Columbus and other surrounding communities.

The details are still in the works, but down payment assistance would be rolled out to those purchasing a home in specific zip codes, Groshans says. He expects it to initially apply to Downtown zip codes.

Repurposing parts of the hospital’s campus footprint into housing also would complement Mercy Health’s efforts to help employees live close to work, he says. Partnering with a housing developer could allow both high-end and entry-level housing options to be available, making it accessible for a wide range of workers.

While offering incentives such as down payment assistance isn’t a trend in the healthcare industry itself, Groshans foresees a trend in offering innovative ways to attract and keep employees. Housing incentives are a creative solution to combat an emerging scarcity in healthcare workers, and it takes advantage of Mercy’s attractive campus and Springfield’s growing amenities.

“This is a lifestyle, and it’s a commitment that folks are making,” Groshans says.

Andrea Berrien moved from Mad River Township to Springfield last year after starting a job at Mercy Health. The house supervisor says that her commute before the move and new job was about a half hour. Now that she both lives and works in Springfield, it’s closer to five minutes.

“I’ve always wanted to be in my community and serve my community,” says Berrien, who grew up in Clark County and has lived here her entire life.

She is relieved that she is closer to home in case of an emergency, plus the proximity makes her day-to-day life easier, too. She can take her kids to school in the morning, and she’s quickly home again when her shift is over.

“When I get off of work, I’m home in time for bedtime,” says Berrien, who has three kids between the ages of 2 and 12.

Berrien is utilizing the hospital’s continuing education program and praised Mercy for the incentives it offers to help employees grow in their careers.

“They just make it easy for you to work there and take advantage of all of the things they have for you,” she says.

Read more articles by Diane Erwin.