Friday, August 26, 2011

Capital Health changes guards

An article published in today's edition of The Chronicle Herald.
Paladin to take over from RMAC, commissionaires

By Brian Medel

Most Capital Health hospitals will be protected by a new security company beginning Oct. 1.

Paladin Security, Canada’s largest supplier of health facility security, will begin a five-year contract that will cost Capital Health more than $18 million, paying out $3.63 million annually, said a recent notice to staff.

Capital Health now pays about $3 million annually for security, spokesman Peter Graham said Thursday.

The existing contract with two suppliers, RMAC Security and the Nova Scotia division of the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires, will expire Sept. 30.

"We did go out with a (request for proposals) earlier this year," said Graham.

The existing security providers did submitted bids.

"Neither of them were successful," said Graham.

The memo to staff said "RMAC Security and the Corps of Commissionaires have provided us with quality service, for which we are very grateful."

The current security providers will be on the job until midnight Sept. 30, when Paladin Security will take over.

About 100 security officers, 78 of whom are commissionaires, work in Capital Health buildings.

Security staff employed by either the Corps of Commissionaires or RMAC Security will be given opportunity to apply for positions with Paladin, with interviewing and hiring expected to begin almost immediately, said the memo.

The job search website said Paladin Security held a job fair in Halifax over two days last week at the Lord Nelson Hotel & Suites, where the company recruited health-care security officers.

Paladin recently opened an office on Spring Garden Road in Halifax.

Two hospital departments that have special security needs are the mental health and emergency units.

Paladin managers will meet with staff from the emergency and mental health departments to ensure the transition is smooth. All Paladin staff receive training that enable them to work in mental health and emergency settings, said the memo.

Health-care security is different from all other types, often involving aggressive patient behaviour, said Leo Knight, chief operations officer with Paladin Security.

"We’re about halfway through our (hiring) process, so we’re probably looking for another 50 to 60 people," Knight said Thursday from Vancouver.

"We got into the Nova Scotia market by doing an acquisition of a local company. . . . Reliant (Security Services)."

It was not a requirement to work here, he said.

"We were coming to the Nova Scotia market anyway. We’re the largest full-service security provider in Canada and we’re the fourth-largest guard company in the country.

"We’re the largest provider of health-care security in the country."

Paladin provides security for every hospital in Alberta and many in British Columbia and Ontario, he said.

Col. Mike Brownlow, chief executive officer of the Nova Scotia division of the corps, said the organization has provided security at Halifax hospitals for many years.

"We’re extremely disappointed, as you can imagine," Brownlow said about not being retained.

"Our relationship has always been a very positive one,"

He said the corps was always concerned with the safety of staff, patients and visitors.

The corps must now look for alternate employment for the 78 veterans hired to work at Capital Health, Brownlow said.

Most commissionaires are military veterans, with some coming from RCMP and municipal police force backgrounds.

Of the 1,700 commissionaires in Nova Scotia, 1,200 are in the Halifax area.

"We’re presently engaging in getting them all placed in different locations," said Brownlow. "There’s a number of them that are retiring.

"Our main mandate is to get employment for veterans."

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