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- Oscar the Cat
Our famous cat, Oscar, who resides on the third floor in Safe Haven Advanced Care, is featured in a book, Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat by David Dosa, M.D. The book was released in February 2010 and, after spending eight weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list, the book is now available in paperback and multiple languages. Dr. David Dosa is a geriatrician with patients here at Steere House. His book follows the 2007 publication of an essay which appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine, garnering global media attention even then! The essay shared the story of Oscar and his extraordinary gift to instinctively sense when end of life is near. With his behavior, Oscar has helped to provide comfort and companionship when people have needed it most.
Described on Dr. Dosa's website, "Making Rounds with Oscar is the story of an unusual cat, the people he serves, their caregivers, and of one doctor who learns how to listen. The book is truly heartfelt, and full of humor and pathos. It allows readers to experience a world rarely seen from the outside, and often misunderstood."
Oscar's rare story provides a unique opportunity to learn more about terminal dementia and end-of-life care while sharing a glimpse of Steere House life and the things that make Steere House a home. At Steere House, we believe in the therapeutic benefits of animal companionship. Throughout the years, Steere House has been home to a variety of animals, including a number of cats, parakeets, a floppy-eared bunny and several regular canine visitors, who all help to make the presence of animals and their comfort benefits a way of life here. These animals are a vital part of our team of dedicated caregivers that make everyday life at Steere House that much richer.
Oscar is a tabby cat who resides on the third floor of the Steere House Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Providence, Rhode Island. Adopted by the nursing home as a kitten, Oscar has lived his entire life on the 41-bed advanced dementia unit. Though much of his first year on the unit was nondescript, Oscar suddenly began making visits to residents on the third floor shortly before his first birthday. His visits originally went unnoticed, but family members and staff began to realize that Oscar’s appearances coincided with the deaths of terminal patients there. While the passing of some residents was not unexpected due to their advanced condition, Oscar’s visits proved to coincide remarkably with a resident’s final hours. Otherwise he was nowhere to be found. On several occasions over the next year, Oscar seemed to be the first “health care provider” on the floor to realize that a resident was about to die.
In time, staff at the nursing home began to rely on Oscar as an “early warning system,” announcing to those present that it was time to notify family and increase hospice services for those close to death. For his service to his patients, a local Hospice organization even awarded Oscar with their annual “Hospice Champion” award. When Dr. Dosa’s essay was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Oscar’s story made international headlines. For several days, “Oscar the cat” was the most widely searched term on several web search engines.
These days, Oscar continues to patrol the halls of Steere House’s third floor dementia unit. Though at times, he has been caught sleeping on the job, Oscar continues to hold vigils for departing patients--mostly to the delight of family members struggling to deal with the death of their loved ones. He continues to be mentioned routinely in obituaries and during funeral services.
- Author David Dosa, M.D.
Following the February release of Making Rounds with Oscar, Steere House and Dr. David Dosa hosted a book signing which served as a fundraiser for Steere House. The book's release, as well as the much deserved media attention it has received, has been a wonderful opportunity for Steere House.
And the book signing event was a nice way to involve the greater Steere House community in all the excitement. Making Rounds with Oscar has helped to tell a truly unique story and the role everyone here plays in keeping the promise of the Steere House mission.
Continue to visit our website for updates on the book and any news stories.
To view more pictures and video of Oscar, click here.
To learn more about the book and its author, visit www.daviddosa.com
To support the Steere House mission with a donation, give a gift online now.