Home Culture A Look Inside the Secaucus Doll + Teddy Bear Hospital

A Look Inside the Secaucus Doll + Teddy Bear Hospital

by Jenna Shulman
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As you enter a local hospital in Secaucus, you will notice a “Doctor is in” sign hanging in the window. Guests will make their way inside and see numerous “doctors” full of energy and some classic TLC. They immediately comfort “patients” and their families, boasting about the thousands of surgeries they have performed. But these aren’t surgeries that require a medical school degree to perform. They don’t require anesthesiology to take away the pain. The recovery time isn’t something to worry about. These are surgeries performed on stuffed animals and dolls.

Secaucus Doll and Teddy Bear Hospital


Secaucus Doll and Teddy Bear Hospital is located on Front Street near the town center and has been caring for dolls and stuffed animals for over 30 years. Individuals young and old from around the world enlist the help of these crafty doctors to fix their damaged prized possessions—or as they say, admit them into surgery. On any day from Tuesday through Saturday, you’ll find the hospital staff stitching, sewing, and stuffing their patients by hand. Here’s a sneak peek inside this special, doll haven.

How the Doll Hospital Came to Be

Secaucus Doll and Teddy Bear Hospital

So how did this one-of-a-kind business start? Doll repair pioneer Luis H. Casas became passionate about dolls when he was growing up in Bogota, Colombia. His mother worked as a doll dressmaker for a large doll factory and during school vacation, he would work at the same production plant. Luis had a passion for medicine and always had dreams of becoming a real doctor, but unfortunately didn’t have the finances to support his medical school journey. So that’s when he decided to start “Clínica de Muñecos” —a doll hospital in Bogota in the 1970s. That hospital, translating to “Doll Clinic,” proudly stands tall today, and is still run by most of Casas’ family members.

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Secaucus Doll and Teddy Bear Hospital

Upon his move to New York in 1986, Luis was shocked to discover the New York Doll Hospital in Manhattan – a place that was very familiar to his own! Just a year later he started working at the store where he gained special techniques to perfect his “medical training.” This Upper East Side institution was run by Irving Chais, whose family started the store in 1900, unfortunately, it closed in 2009 when Chais died}. After 23 years of working in New York City, Luis decided to start his own shop in Secaucus in 2009. The rest is history.

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Sadly, after five years of battling Alzheimer’s, Luis passed in 2019. But that didn’t stop his family from continuing to serve doll and stuffed animal owners from around the world and continue his legacy.

The Hospital’s Operation

Secaucus Doll and Teddy Bear Hospital

As you enter the storefront or the “waiting room”, you’ll see every kind of doll and teddy bear overflowing the room – from Cabbage Patch Kids to porcelain dolls to Raggedy Anns, and even stuffed Disney characters — all ready to be operated on.

The current team at Secaucus Doll and Teddy Bear Hospital is dynamic as ever. They treat every doll, stuffed animal, teddy bear, you name it – with love and respect. New hair for a doll? Check. New stuffing? Check. The joy of reconnecting with a rehabilitated childhood friend is unmatched — this viral video shows a woman’s emotional reaction to receiving her beloved “Whitey” as a gift from her fianceé. Thanks to Luis and his team, the teddy bear was in perfect condition. The team or “family affair” of Ines {Luis’s wife}, Jeanette {his older child}, Alba {his sister-in-law}, and Sara {not-related but still feels like family} can repair any missing or broken limbs, eyes, ears, or heads.

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Each patient is given the most dedicated care. As the patient is escorted in by its owner {owners here range from five-year-olds to 90year olds}, the Secaucus doll and teddy bear team takes a picture with the doll or toy and provides their family with the diagnosis. People can also mail their beloved patients to the store. With the promise that “nobody dies in our hands,” the Secaucus Doll and Teddy Hospital is the only hospital that has the power to bring old friends back to life.

Secaucus Doll and Teddy Bear Hospital

And what makes this magical place even more special is the personal touch. The staff love to learn more about people and the stories behind the dolls and teddy bears — they often enjoy reminiscing on the “older, simpler times” before technology replaced toys.

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