AFSCME’s tour visits Harrisburg to promote public service jobs

Addressing the need to fill open public service positions throughout Pennsylvania, AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Elissa McBride and members of AFSCME Council 13 joined House Speaker Joanna McClinton at a press conference Tuesday in Harrisburg. 

A commonwealth-sponsored hiring hall will take place Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the AFSCME Council 13 Conference Center in Harrisburg. Job seekers can meet with recruiters from several agencies – including the Departments of Corrections, Human Services, Environmental Protection, Transportation, General Services, Revenue, and Banking – and will have the opportunity to apply for open positions on the spot. 

“Never before have we been able to see so many vacancies, all at the same time, through different departments here in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” McClinton said at the press conference. “But the best thing is – right here in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania – we have people of all backgrounds, all ages, who have the qualifications and skills to fill these vacancies. And we look forward to them coming to the hiring fair (Wednesday), learning about the opportunities, and spreading them across their networks so we can fill these jobs.” 

Short staffing exists among nurses, PennDOT workers, corrections officers, and others. AFSCME launched the “Staff the Front Lines” initiative this year, to partner with elected officials on recruiting and retaining the essential workers who keep communities running. The Staff the Front Lines bus is holding recruitment events in more than 20 major cities across the U.S. this summer. 

“We are doing this because our communities simply cannot function without the everyday heroes who keep our streets clean, take our kids to school and ensure our water is safe to drink, and we need a lot more people filling these vital roles,” AFSCME Council 13 Executive Director David Henderson said. “On top of making our communities better, these are often union jobs with good pay, great benefits, retirement plans and job security.” 

AFSCME Council 13 Member and Pennsylvania Department of Human Services worker Susan Bosco said it doesn’t matter how old or young an applicant is or where they’re from. 

“If you have a passion to serve your community, you can do this work,” said Bosco. “That is why public service often reflects the diversity of the communities we serve. … Take it from me, as someone who has lived through it: In the private sector, you are often seen as just a number. In public service, you are an essential part of your community.” 

McBride said the population of Allentown, Erie, Pittsburgh, Reading, and Scranton combined (970,000) is also the number of public sector job vacancies in the U.S. 

“And that’s why we started the national Staff the Front Lines bus tour,” said McBride. “At every stop on the tour, we’re talking about the importance of recruiting and retaining the next generation of public service and health care workers. We’re lifting up the fact that these union jobs come with strong rights and protections. We’re shining a light on the opportunity to be part of something bigger.”

Keystone Human Services announces new CEO

Charles S. Sweeder
Charles S. Sweeder. PHOTO/PROVIDED

Harrisburg-based Keystone Human Services has named Charles S. Sweeder as the third president and CEO in the company’s history, succeeding Charles J. Hooker III, who retired Jan. 24.

KHS is a multi-national human services organization that operates in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, India and the Republic of Moldova, providing advocacy; services; and supports in early childhood education and family support, mental health, autism and intellectual, developmental, cognitive and physical disability.

“We build communities where everyone can thrive, direct their own lives, establish homes, find meaningful work, pursue education alongside their peers, and fill valued roles in the community,” a release said.

“I have worked with Chuck for two decades, and I am excited that he is the next president and CEO of KHS,” Hooker said. “The future of KHS is bright with his continued dedication to those we support, their families and our employees.”

Sweeder began with Keystone Human Services in 2003 as controller and continued his leadership within KHS as chief financial officer, vice president of finance and executive vice president. He served as president-elect for the majority of 2022.

“I am honored to be the next president and CEO of KHS,” Sweeder added. “I am grateful to Charlie and the KHS Board for their confidence and support during this transition,” said Chuck Sweeder. “KHS is a global leader because of our collective commitment to inclusion and supporting people to live full lives within the community.”

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Wolf nominates policy, planning secretary to lead Department of Human Services


Meg Snead, Wolf’s secretary of policy and planning, is set to take the role of Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary when Teresa Miller leaves the position on April 30.

Snead currently oversees the administration’s development and implementation of policy priorities, including the COVID-19 pandemic response, ensuring access to health care and breaking barriers to critical human services.

Prior to working for the Wolf Administration, Snead spent 10 years working in the nonprofit industry in Colorado.

“Meg Snead is an exceptional public servant whose background includes extensive experience in policy development for Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable citizens,” Wolf said in a statement. “She has dedicated her career to ensuring individuals have necessary social determinants of health, like adequate access to housing and health care.”

Wolf also thanked Miller for her three years as secretary of the department. Miller was also insurance commissioner for the state Insurance Department for over two years.

“During her tenure, she was instrumental in ensuring Pennsylvanians had access to health care, designing programs to break generational poverty, and redesigned Pennsylvania’s employment and training programs for people who use public assistance,” said Wolf.

Penn State Health gets $23 million to prepare long-term care facilities from COVID-19


Penn State Health announced a three-part strategy to support long-term care facilities and nursing homes throughout southcentral Pennsylvania after receiving $22.9 million from the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.

The Hershey-based health system is one of nine Pennsylvania hospital and health systems to be awarded part of $175 million in grants as part of the state’s Regional Response Health Collaboration Program. The program, announced in June, provides clinical, operational and administrative support to protect residents in long-term care facilities from COVID-19.

As the program’s southcentral Pennsylvania system, Penn State Health will work with facilities in Adams, Bedford, Blair, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lebanon, Mifflin, Perry and York Counties.

“Penn State’s broad range of expertise positions us well to help support long-term care facilities in the southcentral region and beyond during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Nicole Osevala, an internist and geriatrician at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center who is coordinating the system’s work within the program.. “Nursing homes and long-term care facilities are susceptible to COVID-19 outbreaks and our goal is to help these facilities to mitigate and effectively manage any future outbreaks they experience.”

As part of its strategy within the program, Penn State Health will coordinate site visits with nursing homes and long-term care centers to assess their readiness for another outbreak of COVID-19.

The system will also use the money to educate administrators and staff at the facilities about the proper use of personal protective equipment to effectively managing a business during a crisis and other subjects.

Penn State officials said the program will involve the university’s colleges of Business, Engineering and Medicine to increase testing capacity, provide reliable PPE supply and support contact tracing at the homes in the 13 counties.

WellSpan to use $2.2 million grant to fund mobile dental clinic

WellSpan Health will use a $2.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to launch its first mobile dental clinic.

The grant was awarded to the York-based health system by the department’s Health Resources and Services Administration and will be released to the system over the span of five years, WellSpan announced.

The grant is the second-largest of its kind in WellSpan’s history and will go to improving access to dental services for vulnerable, underserved and rural populations throughout the midstate.

“WellSpan is always striving to find a better way to serve our communities and adopt new ways of delivering healthcare to those who need it most,” said Victoria Diamond, senior vice president for the central region of WellSpan Health and president of WellSpan York Hospital. “With this grant, we will design and implement a program offering that can serve as a model for others.”

WellSpan’s first goal with the funding is to launch a mobile dental clinic to serve long-term care facilities. The mobile dental clinic is expected to be in service by the end of the year and will operate in a number of counties outside of York.

Along with the mobile dental clinic, WellSpan said it plans to expand its dental residency program at WellSpan York Hospital Dental Center and the Hoodner Dental Center in York.

“We know that access to healthcare can be a problem for many,” said Dr. Craig Pate, residency program director at WellSpan York Hospital Dental Center. “A lot of rural communities have limited dental care options and some patients have to travel over an hour to receive care.”

WellSpan will also use the funds to create a new Dental Healthcare Coordinator position that will act as a public health hygienist.

Pate said the new hire would go to underserved and rural populations to provide care.

“We want to create a bridge to these groups to take down barriers to care, so it’s easier for them to get the dental care they need,” he said.