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MedStar Union Memorial Hospital Introduces Canines to Its Security Force, Enhancing Safety on Campus for Patients, Visitors and Associates

BALTIMORE, MD -- (Marketwired) -- 05/28/14 -- MedStar Union Memorial Hospital is enhancing the culture of safety on its campus with the launch of a security canine program. Two patrol dogs and their officer-handlers will add an increased crime prevention and detection service to the hospital's 60-member security force.

Enhanced safety for patients, visitors and hospital staff will alleviate the number of calls for security assistance. Studies show that the presence of a canine can de-escalate a potentially violent situation more quickly and effectively than a weapon.

"The safety of our associates, patients and visitors is a top priority," said Neil MacDonald, vice president, Operations, MedStar Union Memorial. "We take necessary steps to ensure that our associates feel safe at all times. That sense of security enables them to focus 100 percent of their attention on the needs of our patients."

The program, consisting of two full-time officers and two German Shepherds, began in November 2013, with a $7,000 grant from Planet Dog Foundation (PDF). The hospital purchased canine Raven, and hired handler Corporal Joel Schindler. Officer Pete Morales and canine Zeus joined the team in January 2014.

The handlers and their canines completed a six-week obedience course at Misty Ridge in New Windsor, MD. Designed to acclimate the handler and dog with each other, the course focused on various command skills to prepare both for canine patrol. The team began patrolling the hospital in March.

Since then, the canines have aided in crisis prevention, already dropping the rate of security incidents on campus. In just over two short months, the dogs have been called to the Emergency Department and to various patient floors over two dozen times to address safety issues. In each case the presence of the canine was enough to safely resolve the issue and thwart a potential crisis from occurring.

"The presence of the canines definitely, without a doubt, plays a vital role in the overall welfare of everyone," said Corporal Schindler. "We have experienced that when a patient is upset, their attitude changes as soon as we bring the canines in."

Corporal Schindler and Officer Morales, along with their canines, will complete canine patrol training in the fall. Earning certification through the North American Police Work Dog Association, the team will participate in a 250-hour, four-week program covering over thirty areas of police dog training designed to prepare the officer and canine for everyday life on the job. Focused primarily on protection work, crowd control, building search and canine aggression, the course is designed to produce a "police dog" and will enable both canines to better serve the hospital.

About MedStar Union Memorial Hospital
MedStar Union Memorial Hospital is a not-for-profit, 249-bed acute care teaching hospital with a strong emphasis on cardiac care, orthopaedics and sports medicine. As one of the region's top specialty hospitals, MedStar Union Memorial has been caring for members of the community for more than 160 years.

We are renowned for The Curtis National Hand Center, Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Heart Institute, and our Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine program. In addition, we offer a comprehensive range of inpatient and outpatient services including diabetes and endocrinology, eye surgery, general surgery, oncology, thoracic surgery, vascular surgery and palliative care.

MedStar Union Memorial was among the highest rated Maryland hospitals based on Consumer Reports rankings in 2013, and is the only hospital in Maryland to receive the Delmarva Foundation's highest honor, the Excellence Award for Quality for Hospitals, for six years in a row.

MedStar Union Memorial has ranked among the nation's top 50 "Best Hospitals" by U.S. News & World Report, earning national recognition for seven consecutive years. Our excellence in care also has been recognized by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Gold Award), the American College of Cardiology (ACTION Registry Award) and Thomson Reuters (Top Hospitals®: Cardiovascular Benchmarks for Success).

MedStar Union Memorial is accredited by The Joint Commission (TJC). We are the first hospital in Baltimore to receive spine certification by TJC, and the first in the state of Maryland to receive advanced certification for palliative care. MedStar Union Memorial also is designated as a Primary Stroke Center and the Hand Trauma Center for the state of Maryland.

MedStar Union Memorial is a proud member of MedStar Health, a non-profit, regional healthcare system with 10 hospitals and more than 20 other health-related services in the Maryland and Washington, D.C. area.

Documents and/or Photos available for this release:

Corporal Joel Schindler and canine Raven
Officer Pete Morales and canine Zeus

To view supporting documents and/or photos, go to www.enr-corp.com/pressroom and enter Release ID: 373267

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