Bassett Healthcare Network Welcomes Fourth Security K-9 Unit to Growing Program
Cooperstown, NY – Bassett Healthcare Network has expanded its K-9 security team to include a fourth dog and handler. On October 3, the team welcomed Hutch, an 18-month-old German Shepherd, and his partner, Officer Jeffrey Bever. Hutch and Bever will be stationed at A.O. Fox Hospital in Oneonta full-time in the evenings.
Bassett’s growing K-9 Security team, a unique program in Central New York, is possible due to the generous support of donors. Hutch joined Bassett’s Security Department following a gift to Bassett’s K-9 program from David and Susan Theobald. The couple, who are dog lovers and were inspired by the program, met Bassett’s K-9 dogs during a trip to Cooperstown and wanted to give back.
“We are truly grateful to David and Susan for their generosity,” says Dr. Tommy Ibrahim, President & CEO of Bassett Healthcare Network. “Bassett’s K-9 program is unlike other hospital security initiatives. Our K-9 teams elevate the level of safety and security we provide to caregivers and our patients who entrust us with care.”
Bever and Hutch have been training together since September. Hutch, along with Bassett’s other security K-9 dogs – Hudson, Coal, and Remi – work at Bassett’s hospital and clinic campuses to help meet the increased security needs healthcare workers face today. Bassett Healthcare Network, like hundreds of other health systems and hospitals across the country, has seen a significant uptick in violence against healthcare workers in recent years. K-9 units are often able to quickly defuse tense situations before they escalate simply by entering a room. They are also trained in tracking and other important protection techniques.
“Healthcare workers are five times more likely to be victims of workplace violence than employees in any other industry,” says AJ Zuk, director of Public Safety and Transportation at Bassett, who helped develop the organization’s K-9 program. “All four of Bassett’s K-9 dogs – Hudson, Coal, Remi, and Hutch – are intelligent, resourceful, alert to everything going on around them, and know how to provide support in any given moment. Their proficiency and level of human connection is truly amazing."
K-9 dogs are not therapy animals; however, they offer comfort to patients, visitors, and employees across Bassett’s campuses. Like Hudson, Coal, and Remi, Hutch will have his own baseball-style trading card and stuffed animal available for patients and visitors who wish to collect them.
Bever says Hutch is learning from his K-9 peers and progressing through training well. “Hutch and I are training with the other K-9 units on Bassett’s Security team,” he explains. “Hutch is quickly learning the ropes and is already demonstrating how well he can handle and de-escalate tense situations. More than anything, these dogs offer a sense of calm and security to everyone around them. Kids love him, too!”
Bever, who is a retired patrol sergeant from the Schoharie County Sheriff’s Office, has worked in law enforcement for more than 25 years. He has served as a police officer in Canajoharie and Cobleskill and has extensive experience in corrections. Bever says his new position with Hutch at Bassett is a meaningful and enjoyable next step in his law enforcement career.
“This job is such a privilege,” says Bever.
“Not only do I get to spend every workday with my best friend – we’re also offering protection and compassion to many people who are in some of their most vulnerable moments. Plus, Bassett’s staff, who work to heal and care for our communities every day, find happiness and comfort in our presence. Hutch loves to work, and it is very honorable work that we accomplish with our team."
Welcome to Bassett, Hutch!
Bassett’s Security Department
In addition to its K-9 team, Bassett’s Security Department consists of more than 60 security officers who staff five hospitals and over two dozen regional health centers, acting as a safety resource for staff, patients, and visitors. They respond to emergencies and are the organization’s liaison with area law enforcement.
About Bassett Healthcare Network
Bassett Healthcare Network is an integrated health system that provides care and services to people living in a 5,600 square mile region in central New York. The organization includes five corporately affiliated hospitals, over two dozen community-based health centers, more than 20 school-based health centers, two skilled nursing facilities, and other health partners in related fields. To learn more about services available throughout the Bassett Healthcare Network, visit www.bassett.org. Follow Bassett on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Bassett Healthcare Network is an equal opportunity provider and employer.