Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Hospice Cat


Oscar the Cat
southerncrossreview.org

This is Oscar, nicknamed the Hospice Cat. He was adopted by the medical staff as a kitten and his home ever since has been on the third floor of the nursing home with the dementia patients at the Steere House Nursing Center in Providence, Rhode Island. Oscar isn't necessarily a very friendly cat; he bit a doctor and often hisses at patients he passes in the hall, but he is such a reliable predictor of a patient's imminent passing that the nursing staff will call in the family when they find Oscar curled up in bed with a patient. Born in 2005, Oscar had accurately predicted 25 deaths by the time he was 2.
 
From an article by Catharine Paddock
in the Medical News Today
"Dr. Joan Teno of Brown University, who is experienced at treating terminally ill patients, said that Oscar can predict who is going to die more accurately than the staff.
She became convinced of Oscar's "skill" while treating a patient who had stopped eating, was breathing erratically and her legs had started to look blue. She thought the patient was near death. But although Oscar called in to see her, he did not stay in the room.

As Teno later found out, that was 10 hours before the patient actually died, and the nurses told her that Oscar came back to sit with the dying patient 2 hours before she finally passed away. This was Oscar's 13th accurate prediction.

There is a commendation wall plaque at the nursing home, awarded to Oscar by a local hospice agency. The plaque reads: "For his compassionate hospice care, this plaque is awarded to Oscar the Cat."
 
"A Day in the Life of Oscar the Cat."
David M. Dosa.
NEJM Volume 357:328-329, July 26, 2007, Number 4

Click here to read the Article.
 
While researching this, I discovered this book written by Dr. Dosa.
Making Rounds With Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat, written by Dosa, an assistant professor of medicine and community health at Brown’s Warren Alpert Medical School, was published by Hyperion 2010. The book recounts the stories of families who got to know Oscar and his unique ability. Dosa hopes that in reading Oscar’s story, readers also will learn more about terminal dementia and end-of-life care.
 
 

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