K9 Program like Sacred Heart in Spokane is coming to Kadlec
The security team at Kadlec Regional Medical Center is getting a new member — the furry and four-legged kind.
The Richland hospital will become the second in Washington to use security dogs.
The first is Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane. Kadlec is also a Providence hospital.
The canine team will train this summer, and they expect to have “paws on the ground” at the Richland hospital by Nov. 11.
The main mission, Kadlec officials said Tuesday, will be to calm down situations before they become a threat to staff and patients.
Like other security dogs, like police dogs, it will deter criminal activity and control violent behavior, mainly in the emergency room.
Kadlec sees a number of incidents every year, and security officials believe the dog team will stop problems before they start.
Earlier this year, Kadlec nurses rallied to add protection against violence to their contracts, and asked for improved security staffing.
Dr. John Matheson, the Kadlec ER medical director, said over 80% of emergency room nurses in the country have been physically assaulted in the last year.
But the simple presence of a security dog could make staff and patients more comfortable, he said.
“For most people, they will never see anything that gets out of control, but they will have the confidence when they see the dog and the handler in the emergency department or throughout the hospital,” Matheson said.
The team also will patrol the main hospital campus and parking garage.
The dog will be a German shepherd, chosen based on its reputation as a more approachable breed used in policing.
Its handler will be a specially trained security officer, according to Kadlec’s security manager.