Four-legged hospital employee bringing joy to sick kids

A new employee at Texas Children's Hospital may not be a doctor, but she is helping heal patients. 

Let me introduce you to Elsa.  She has a name tag work badge and plenty of patients, but this Texas Children's Hospital worker does a few things other employees can’t. she makes herself comfy cozy laying on patients’ beds while on the clock, and she’s known to fall asleep on the job, all while bringing an amazing amount of joy to the kids who have to be here. 

“Elsa kind of normalizes the hospital experience for the kids.  A lot of kids are here in the hospital for a long time and she is a welcome distraction, explains Texas Children’s Hospital Animal Assisted Therapy Coordinator Sarah Herbek.  Elsa, by the way, is the hospital’s new therapy dog.  She’s a Golden Retriever.  “She’s pretty.  She’s really soft,” explains one patient.

“Hi Elsa,” yells one doctor excitedly as the pretty pup gets on the hospital elevator.

15-year-old Jillie Beard has been in the hospital five months battling leukemia.  That’s a long time to be away from her doggie who is home waiting for her.  So here in the hospital, Elsa lays beside Jillie in bed clearly making the teen's day. 

“She brightens it up because I'm a big animal person,” smiles the 151year-old.

The 2-year-old blonde beauty, named after Disney’s Princess Elsa, has a lot in common with her namesake.  She seems to magically touch everyone she encounters here.

"I love her,” says 12-year-old Kimberly Alegrira.

“Kind of makes their days a little bit better, whether kids want to love on her or take her to the garden and play fetch with her or even just walk her down the halls,” adds Herbek.  Herbek and Elsa are a team at the hospital and roommates at home.  The therapy coordinator says Elsa's job description is to make kids happy.

"I’m happy because Elsa comes to visit,” Kimberly says.

Elsa is obviously good at her job.  In a nationwide contest, Elsa was named one of the top 15 dogs of 2017 that changed the world.  The only downside?  Kids heading home want to take Elsa too.