Challenges plague security contractor at Philadelphia nursing home U.S. Security Associates Has Record of Ineffective Background Checks, Sexual Harassment Complaints
Recent revelations show that security contractor, U.S. Security Associates, charged with protecting the Philadelphia Nursing Home does a poor job of screening its employees and that its on-site manager at the nursing facility has a record of criminal and sexual harassment allegations against him. The company, responsible for protecting residents and employees at the publicly funded, 451-bed facility has also been working under an expired contract since June 30, 2009. City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown is calling for the city to seek a new security company.
"Given that there is not a current contract between U.S. Security and Philadelphia Nursing Home, we believe that the contract needs to be put out to bid. If the allegations of security personnel being fired for reporting that they are being harassed are true, there is even further motivation to put this contract up for bid now, not later. Contracts need to go to a responsible bidder - sexual harassers need not apply," said Brown.
Questions have been raised about whether USSA's contract at the nursing home ever got the necessary city approvals. The city owns the nursing facility but contracts with a private, Philadelphia-based operator, Fairmount Long-Term Care, to run it. The contract prohibits Fairmount from entering into any subcontracts without the city's prior written approval.
32BJ SEIU and a citywide committee of security officers also called on the city Public Health Commissioner Donald Schwarz to investigate the concerns of nearly 100 nurses who have signed a petition calling the nursing home's site manager, Todd Messer "a threat" to workers. In addition to their petition, more than 900 concerned citizens have called in writing for USSA's removal from the facility.
Messer was charged with two felony counts of neglect in Indiana in 2004 for leaving a loaded handgun in a place accessible to children, and failing to provide a safe or sanitary home or adequate supervision, thereby endangering a 22-month old and a six-month old. He ultimately pleaded to one misdemeanor account.
USSA also has sexual harassment charges pending against it for the behavior of Messer. The charges were filed by a former security officer at the nursing home, Lisa Garner, who lost her job without explanation after rejecting advances by Messer. She shares her story on video: http://action.seiu.org/page/speakout/ussaphila. Messer has a checkered background: He moonlighted as a promoter and scout for a pornographic magazine, "Hot Bods," and left his "Hot Bods" business cards at his workstation in the nursing home.
USSA secures more than 10 locations in Philadelphia and the suburbs, including St. Christopher Children's Hospital, Hahnemann Hospital and the Art Institute.
With more than 120,000 members in nine states, including 10,000 in the Philadelphia area, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property services union in the country.
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