LAKE ST. LOUIS, Mo. – A new employee at SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital in Lake St. Louis is making all the difference in helping relieve the stress of other hospital workers who are frustrated and exhausted in working through the worst wave of the COVID pandemic.

“Smiles are sometimes hard to come by in hospitals these days,” said Erika Jensen, RN director of the emergency department at SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital. “It’s really rough, you know? Again, it stems back to us feeling like we’re trying our best and we’re giving our best and sometimes that still doesn’t feel good enough.”

But everyone smiles when they see Sully the therapy dog, a six-month-old golden retriever Jensen brings to work every day.

“When Sully comes around, I mean almost every person is like, ‘You made my whole day, this was amazing!’ You know, he’s awesome; they’re loving him, petting him, and holding him. We have tons of pictures of the staff with him,” Jensen said.

Demand for COVID tests is still very high. CareSTL Health organized a major drive-thru event to make it easy for individuals to get free tests without having to get out of their vehicles, part of their day of service on MLK Day.

“I do think it’s a great opportunity for us to reach more people today because they do have the day off and maybe they’re not rushing to get here before they go to work or before they get off work,” said Deneen Busby, CareSTL Health.

CareSTL Health is a federally-qualified health center that helps underserved communities. The organization will provide daily COVID testing at its three locations in St. Louis.

“It’s very important that I take a COVID test,” said truck driver Marcus Evans. “Not necessarily for me, but for the safety of the public and people that are around me, and also for my health. To know if I have COVID or not, and to do the procedures to get myself better.”