Photo courtesy of the Providence Spokane K9 team
All over the country, hospitals have seen a significant decrease in workplace violence by implementing K9 programs. K9 teams consist of a K9 handler and a canine partner.
When the idea came to Providence Swedish South Puget Sound, the Providence Southwest Washington Foundation approved an allocation from their Greatest Need Fund to launch the program in early 2023.
Thanks to the generosity of Foundation donors (many of which include employees and providers), and yet another initiative to improve hospital safety in South Puget Sound, Providence St. Peter and Centralia hospitals will soon welcome four-legged employees the Security team.
K9 launch timeline
The South Puget Sound Security team has begun hiring for the handler positions, according to Security Supervisor Terry Bereta. The selected officers will head to Alabama where they will choose their canine partner. “In reality, it’s the dogs who will choose their handler,” said Bereta. The dog will become part of the handler’s family and live with them.
After a ten-week training, the teams come back to South Puget Sound and will begin serving early 2023.
Increased safety in our hospitals
“The safety and security of employees remains a top priority for leaders in the South Puget Sound,” said Providence Swedish South Puget Sound Chief Executive Darin Goss. “We will continue to focus our efforts to find resources such as establishing the K9 program to increase and maintain employee and hospital safety.”
As of December 2019, K9 Programs have been successful at four Providence facilities in Alaska and Eastern Washington. Providence Alaska Medical Center estimates their workplace violence decreased by 50% during the first year with the K9 program. In Spokane, Providence facilities with K9 security teams have seen a 30% drop in violence. In more than 400 deployments at Providence in Spokane, not once has a dog been required to physically engage. Instead, the dog’s presence helped de-escalate situations. Photo courtesy of Providence Alaska K9 team.
Bereta and his team are excited to welcome the four-legged employees to their team. The K9’s will be a huge deterrent to violence that will serve to protect our patients, visitors, employees and officers. Bereta says the K9 teams will “boost morale and provide an additional barrier of protection” and will allow caregivers to “support each other as a family would.”
Benefits of a K9 program
K9 programs have been proven to:
• Decrease workplace violence
• Improve employee safety
• Improve patient safety
• Keep facility grounds safe
• Boost employee morale and provide support
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