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Bassett Healthcare Network Expands K-9 Security Program

Written By Editor on 2/9/22 | 2/9/22

Thanks to a generous gift from Jane Forbes Clark, Bassett Healthcare Network is expanding its K-9 security program. Three-year-old Ryker, a German Shepherd, and his handler, officer Jared Hubbard, joined Bassett’s security team last week and will provide services throughout the Bassett Healthcare Network.


Bassett, along with a growing number of hospital systems around the country, is integrating a K-9 security program as a critical part of its care team, offering comfort and safety to patients and staff across medical settings. Bassett introduced its first K-9 security team in 2019 – Hudson, a five-year-old Belgian Malinois, and the dog’s handler, officer Robert Meiser, have been an integral part of the network’s security operations, traveling throughout the health system’s eight-county region.

Harold Southworth, Bassett’s network director of Public Safety and Transportation,
 says the K-9 program has introduced diverse benefits into clinical settings. “Ryker and Hudson are both extremely intelligent and adaptable to the moment,” says Southworth, who, along with Andrew Zuk, manager of Security Operations, has led the development of the K-9 program. “Their presence can immediately bring calmness to patients, families, and staff. They are approachable, comforting distractions when called upon, especially for children in the emergency department. I can’t tell you how much relief Hudson has brought to kids – and adult patients – who are frightened and upset.” 

Officer Jared Hubbard poses with Ryker.

Hubbard trained with Ryker for several weeks before officially beginning work at Bassett Healthcare Network. “The training was rigorous and a really fantastic experience. Ryker and I have bonded deeply,” says Hubbard, who, in his role as a K-9 security officer, has taken on the responsibility of caring for his canine partner as well as the ongoing training of Ryker. Similarly, officer Meiser maintains a working and caring relationship with Hudson.


“The presence of a K-9 team has added an important new dimension to our security program,” says William LeCates, MD, Bassett’s northern region executive. “Over the past few years, the program has been extremely successful, offering comfort and safety to patients, their loved ones, and our caregivers. We are very proud of our K-9 program and the vital work they do every day to keep our patients, visitors, and staff safe.”

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 reassuring presence and resource for staff, patients, and visitors. They respond to emergencies and are the network’s liaison with area law enforcement.

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