ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — A fresh face at Ascension Sacred Heart hospital: Luisa! The hospital’s newest employee. She’s a service dog, tasked with bringing some much-needed comfort to adult oncology and ICU patients. 

“You know for patients it really eases anxiety,” President and CEO of Ascension Sacred Heart Wil Condon said. “It’s a scary time being in the hospital, and what a dog does at home as well as in the hospital is really just reduce that stress.”

Luisa is coming to Ascension Sacred Heart thanks to a donation from a masonic organization, the Grand Chapter of the Florida Order of the Eastern Star. 

The hospital has already seen the benefits of bringing in furry friends to the hospital. Their five other service dogs have been providing their healing support to pediatric patients. 

“They have tests that they have to go through, and that is frightening for a child,” Worth Grand Matron Order of the Eastern Star’s Gail Jerrell said. “Adults, it’s frightening for them also, so it helps them to relax, and they know that they’re there, yet someone else is with them.”

The addition of these services animals doesn’t just ease the minds of patients but also the doctors and nurses on the floor.

“On the associate side we deal with a lot of trauma and tough things here in the hospital,” Condon said. “And what our facility dog program has been able to do is really lift spirits whenever it’s really a low point during a time of day in the hospital. I think the staff’s super excited and we’re ready to get Luisa on the floor next week and see the great work she can do.”