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Oscar the Cat

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  • Edward.J.Tracey@valley.net
    Back in 2007, the world learned about Oscar the Cat - a kitty in a Rhode Island nursing home (more like a hospice, it seems to me) who had an amazing ability.
    Message 1 of 3 , Feb 2, 2010
      Back in 2007, the world learned about Oscar the Cat - a kitty in a Rhode Island
      nursing home (more like a hospice, it seems to me) who had an amazing ability.
      Not an overly friendly cat, Oscar would curl up next to a resident who would
      die within a day (and if that person's door was closed, Oscar would scratch at
      the door). And you might think that people would be afraid of this "Feline of
      Death".

      But these were often patients with advanced Alzheimer's, etc - and so if
      their loved ones did die, people reasoned, Oscar was there purring next to them
      "so they didn't die alone". And in recent years the staff would telephone
      people to tell them, "Oscar is near your uncle/mother", etc - sort of an "early
      warning system" to tell them to come over if they wanted a chance to say
      goodbye.

      The doctor who first noticed this has now written a book:

      News story about the book:
      http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5gY5HogGrp_wTPmjJLPq
      nC2_iG5rw

      The book itself:
      http://www.amazon.com/Making-Rounds-Oscar-Extraordinary-Ordinary/dp/1401323235

      ... and here is the essay he wrote back in 2007 .... in the prestigious New
      England Journal of Medicine:

      ===================================================

      A Day in the Life of Oscar the Cat
      David M. Dosa, M.D., M.P.H.
      New England Journal of Medicine, July 26, 2007


      Oscar the Cat awakens from his nap, opening a single eye to survey his
      kingdom. From atop the desk in the doctor's charting area, the cat peers down
      the two wings of the nursing home's advanced dementia unit. All quiet on the
      western and eastern fronts. Slowly, he rises and extravagantly stretches his
      2-year-old frame, first backward and then forward. He sits up and considers his
      next move.

      In the distance, a resident approaches. It is Mrs. P., who has been living on
      the dementia unit's third floor for 3 years now. She has long forgotten her
      family, even though they visit her almost daily. Moderately disheveled after
      eating her lunch, half of which she now wears on her shirt, Mrs. P. is taking
      one of her many aimless strolls to nowhere. She glides toward Oscar, pushing
      her walker and muttering to herself with complete disregard for her
      surroundings. Perturbed, Oscar watches her carefully and, as she walks by, lets
      out a gentle hiss, a rattlesnake-like warning that says "leave me alone." She
      passes him without a glance and continues down the hallway.

      Oscar is relieved. It is not yet Mrs. P.'s time, and he wants nothing to do
      with her.

      Oscar jumps down off the desk, relieved to be once more alone and in control of
      his domain. He takes a few moments to drink from his water bowl and grab a
      quick bite. Satisfied, he enjoys another stretch and sets out on his rounds.
      Oscar decides to head down the west wing first, along the way sidestepping Mr.
      S., who is slumped over on a couch in the hallway. With lips slightly pursed,
      he snores peacefully o perhaps blissfully unaware of where he is now living.
      Oscar continues down the hallway until he reaches its end and Room 310. The
      door is closed, so Oscar sits and waits.

      He has important business here.

      Twenty-five minutes later, the door finally opens, and out walks a nurse's aide
      carrying dirty linens. "Hello, Oscar," she says. "Are you going inside?" Oscar
      lets her pass, then makes his way into the room, where there are two people.
      Lying in a corner bed and facing the wall, Mrs. T. is asleep in a fetal
      position. Her body is thin and wasted from the breast cancer that has been
      eating away at her organs. She is mildly jaundiced and has not spoken in
      several days. Sitting next to her is her daughter, who glances up from her
      novel to warmly greet the visitor. "Hello, Oscar. How are you today?"

      Oscar takes no notice of the woman and leaps up onto the bed. He surveys Mrs.
      T. She is clearly in the terminal phase of illness, and her breathing is
      labored. Oscar's examination is interrupted by a nurse, who walks in to ask the
      daughter whether Mrs. T. is uncomfortable and needs more morphine. The daughter
      shakes her head, and the nurse retreats. Oscar returns to his work. He sniffs
      the air, gives Mrs. T. one final look, then jumps off the bed and quickly
      leaves the room.

      Not today.

      Making his way back up the hallway, Oscar arrives at Room 313. The door is
      open, and he proceeds inside. Mrs. K. is resting peacefully in her bed, her
      breathing steady but shallow. She is surrounded by photographs of her
      grandchildren and one from her wedding day. Despite these keepsakes, she is
      alone. Oscar jumps onto her bed and again sniffs the air. He pauses to consider
      the situation, and then turns around twice before curling up beside Mrs. K.

      One hour passes. Oscar waits. A nurse walks into the room to check on her
      patient. She pauses to note Oscar's presence. Concerned, she hurriedly leaves
      the room and returns to her desk. She grabs Mrs. K.'s chart off the
      medical-records rack and begins to make phone calls.

      Within a half hour the family starts to arrive. Chairs are brought into the
      room, where the relatives begin their vigil. The priest is called to deliver
      last rites. And still, Oscar has not budged, instead purring and gently
      nuzzling Mrs. K. A young grandson asks his mother, "What is the cat doing
      here?" The mother, fighting back tears, tells him, "He is here to help Grandma
      get to heaven." Thirty minutes later, Mrs. K. takes her last earthly breath.
      With this, Oscar sits up, looks around, then departs the room so quietly that
      the grieving family barely notices.

      On his way back to the charting area, Oscar passes a plaque mounted on the
      wall. On it is engraved a commendation from a local hospice agency: "For his
      compassionate hospice care, this plaque is awarded to Oscar the Cat." Oscar
      takes a quick drink of water and returns to his desk to curl up for a long
      rest. His day's work is done. There will be no more deaths today, not in Room
      310 or in any other room for that matter. After all, no one dies on the third
      floor unless Oscar pays a visit and stays awhile.
      ----------------------

      (Note): Since he was adopted by staff members as a kitten, Oscar the Cat has
      had an uncanny ability to predict when residents are about to die. Thus far, he
      has presided over the deaths of more than 25 residents on the third floor of
      Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, Rhode Island. His
      mere presence at the bedside is viewed by physicians and nursing home staff as
      an almost absolute indicator of impending death, allowing staff members to
      adequately notify families. Oscar has also provided companionship to those who
      would otherwise have died alone. For his work, he is highly regarded by the
      physicians and staff at Steere House and by the families of the residents whom
      he serves.
    • Edward.J.Tracey@valley.net
      You may recall a few years ago reading about a doctor who works in a nursing home in Providence, Rhode Island. There is one floor of the facility which serves
      Message 2 of 3 , Aug 31, 2010
        You may recall a few years ago reading about a doctor who works in a nursing
        home in Providence, Rhode Island. There is one floor of the facility which
        serves as a dementia unit - more like a hospice, in reality.

        In the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. David Dosa wrote an
        essay entitled "A Day in the Life of Oscar the Cat" - about a kitteh with the
        uncanny ability to detect which patient is near death - and wind up signalling
        this to the staff (by curling up next to them and purring).

        Now, when the story came out you got the usual "Hey, keep that cat away from
        me!" jokes ... but according to everyone associated with the hospice, Oscar
        served as an "early warning system" for the staff to alert the patient's family
        - so they could arrive and pay their last respects. Here was one example (from
        the NEJM article) when a family arrived after being telephoned that Oscar had
        curled up next to a 'Mrs. K':

        "When a grandson asked why the cat was there, his mother explained: 'He is here
        to help Grandma get to heaven.' The patient died half an hour later."

        http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp078108
        ----------------------------------

        Later, Dr. Dosa wrote a best-seller entitled "Making Rounds With Oscar - The
        Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat".

        http://daviddosa.com/
        ----------------------------------

        Well ..... it now appears that the story of Oscar the Cat ..... is (possibly)
        about to "Go Hollywood"

        "Variety reports that screenwriters Stephen Lindsey and Luis Ugaz have adapted
        Dr David Dosa's bestselling memoir for the big screen. The plot will chart the
        life-and-death dramas at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in
        Providence, Rhode Island: where the off-screen Oscar is still in residence".

        http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2010/aug/23/oscar-death-cat-hollywood/print
      • Plume, Barbara (OTDA)
        Well, let s see them hollywoodize those endings...... From: EddieEvents@yahoogroups.com [mailto:EddieEvents@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
        Message 3 of 3 , Aug 31, 2010
          Well, let's see them hollywoodize those endings......

          From: EddieEvents@yahoogroups.com [mailto:EddieEvents@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Edward.J.Tracey@...
          Sent: Tuesday, August 31, 2010 3:44 PM
          To: EddieEvents@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: [EddieEvents] Oscar the Cat



          You may recall a few years ago reading about a doctor who works in a nursing
          home in Providence, Rhode Island. There is one floor of the facility which
          serves as a dementia unit - more like a hospice, in reality.

          In the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. David Dosa wrote an
          essay entitled "A Day in the Life of Oscar the Cat" - about a kitteh with the
          uncanny ability to detect which patient is near death - and wind up signalling
          this to the staff (by curling up next to them and purring).

          Now, when the story came out you got the usual "Hey, keep that cat away from
          me!" jokes ... but according to everyone associated with the hospice, Oscar
          served as an "early warning system" for the staff to alert the patient's family
          - so they could arrive and pay their last respects. Here was one example (from
          the NEJM article) when a family arrived after being telephoned that Oscar had
          curled up next to a 'Mrs. K':

          "When a grandson asked why the cat was there, his mother explained: 'He is here
          to help Grandma get to heaven.' The patient died half an hour later."

          http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp078108
          ----------------------------------

          Later, Dr. Dosa wrote a best-seller entitled "Making Rounds With Oscar - The
          Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat".

          http://daviddosa.com/
          ----------------------------------

          Well ..... it now appears that the story of Oscar the Cat ..... is (possibly)
          about to "Go Hollywood"

          "Variety reports that screenwriters Stephen Lindsey and Luis Ugaz have adapted
          Dr David Dosa's bestselling memoir for the big screen. The plot will chart the
          life-and-death dramas at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in
          Providence, Rhode Island: where the off-screen Oscar is still in residence".

          http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2010/aug/23/oscar-death-cat-hollywood/print


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