Chico, 2, and Scout, 1, are Czech Shepherds who have received extensive security dog training and are now working with fellow Chandler Regional security employees, Mike Watkins and Robert Andazola.
“The dogs and handlers are still fairly new to each other, but their bonds grow each day,” says Chris Bellino, director of security for Dignity Health in Arizona. “We have had great success for nearly a decade with K-9 teams at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix. With the addition of a Level-1 trauma unit at Chandler Regional, it seemed fitting that we expand the program.”
Hospitals around the country routinely use security dogs. Often, their mere presence results in a safer environment.
Chico and Scout will patrol all areas of the hospital with their handlers, Watkins and Andazola, to provide a sense of comfort and serve as a tension reliever for patients and families who are going through stressful situations.
“We've been fortunate to have a very safe campus, and we're confident that the addition of the K-9 program will further enhance safety and security for everyone at Chandler Regional,” says Jane Hanson, interim chief executive officer of Dignity Health Chandler Regional and Mercy Gilbert Medical Centers.
While Dignity Health’s current East Valley security dogs will primarily work at Chandler Regional, they will also occasionally visit Dignity Health Mercy Gilbert Medical Center. Hospital employees are also being trained how to work appropriately with the new teams to ensure the program’s success.