12

The Adventure Bear Show (Part 2 of 2)

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So far – Joey and Mikey Bear were both trying to win a contest on The Adventure Bear Show. To win they had to write an essay about something nice they had done for someone. Somehow, both cubs had ended up at the same place to do the same job.

Joey was stunned and disappointed. Now what was he supposed to do? He didn’t have another idea. Mikey’s mom must have known about the Ursalines too. Mikey grinned from the sofa.

Joey turned to Mrs. Ursaline and said that he didn’t realize that she already had help. He didn’t want to bother her. She said not to worry; there were plenty of things to do. She was sure she could keep them both busy. So Joey sat on the sofa next to Mikey. Mikey’s grin faded. He knew Joey was a good writer and would be able to do a better job explaining their work.

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Mrs. Ursaline was right. There was a lot of work to do. They needed to clean out the garden and cover the plants with mulch. There was a lot of raking to be done. All of the tools had to be cleaned and put away. The back part of the den needed to be raked out and covered with leaves and moss for the winter sleeping.

This was going to be a lot of work. Joey hadn’t counted on anything this hard and wondered if he could back out. Then he remembered that if he did, Mikey would get to go with Adventure Bear. This had to be the best job anyone would have. Grrr.

They each grabbed a rake and started to furiously clear the leaves, trying to outdo each other in the amount they raked. After a while, Mrs. Ursaline came out to see how they were doing. She was not impressed. She called the boys over and told them that it wasn’t a race. They needed to be more careful and make sure they got all of the leaves up. They should work as a team.

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Joey and Mikey looked at each other guiltily. She was right. They had done a terrible job. They told her they would go over it again. They divided the yard, and each cub concentrated on getting all of the leaves. When it was done, it looked great.

They decided that they should rake out the den next. That way they could use the best leaves for the bedding. While they were in the den, they started talking to each other again. They decided that it was stupid to fight over Adventure Bear. He probably already had a favorite cub in the area. They decided to be friends again.

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They found some nice, soft moss for the ground and covered it with the best leaves they could find. None of the icky, smelly ones that had already started to rot. Those ones would be good for the garden. They went outside to get started on the garden.

When they got outside, they discovered that it was already starting to get dark. They told Mrs. Ursaline that they would be back the next day to finish. Mrs. Ursaline told them that they were doing a wonderful job, and she looked forward to seeing them again.

At dinner, Joey excitedly told them about his afternoon with Mikey at Mrs. Ursaline’s. He was happiest that he and Mikey were friends again. His mother smiled. She and Mikey’s mom had hoped that would be the result. Joey went to bed early, tired from all the work.

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The next day, they decided that the best way to clean out the garden was to cut back the plants, rake around them, and cover everything with leaves. It was a lot of work, and their paws were sweaty by the time they were done.

That just left the tools. The job was worse than what they expected. They had to wipe everything down, but then they had to cover the tools with grease to protect them from the cold and damp. It was almost impossible to get the sticky stuff off their paws.

Finally it was time for the Adventure Bear dinner. Mikey and Joey sat next to each other. They talked about how great it was to shake Adventure Bear’s paw and how big and strong he was. They promised to still be friends if one of them won the trip.

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Dinner was great, salmon and berries, but the cubs were all impatient to find out who had won. It seemed like forever until a bear stood up and said it was time for Adventure Bear to announce the winner.

Adventure Bear said it was always hard to choose a cub for his adventure; this time it was so hard that he had chosen two winners for the first time ever. He had chosen these two cubs because they had performed their tasks together and had helped each other as well as the bear needing the help. Both essays really demonstrated the Adventure Bear spirit.

Joey and Mikey looked at each other. He had to be talking about them! When Adventure Bear announced their names, they ran to the stage together. They stood on either side of Adventure Bear while he told everyone that they would be hiking up a local hill and looking for grubs and berries.

All of them joined together in a giant “bear” hug.

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11

Mama Cat and the Badger

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It was Christmas Eve, and Mama Cat was totally exhausted. Her reputation as an herbalist and healer was spreading and she building a good practice. But all that work had put her behind in her Christmas preparations. She had just finished the baking and wrapping. But the house was a total mess.

She was startled by a loud knocking at the door. She hoped it wasn’t that lousy Tom. She should have known he had two other kitten mamas. Mama Cat opened the door.

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It was a very large badger. Mama Cat almost fainted with fear. He asked if he could come in. She nodded and pointed to a seat.

“Are you here to eat me?” She was terrified.

The badger looked hurt. “Of course not. I am asking for your help.”

Mama Cat looked confused. “What could I possibly do for you?”

The badger looked at her hopefully. “My name is Reginald Badger, and I live in the forest. My son was playing with some friends and it got a little rough. He was clawed rather badly. My wife says that you can heal animals and was hoping that you would help our son.”

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Mama Cat looked around the house. “But it’s Christmas Eve, and I have five kittens in the other room who are waiting for Santa Claws.” Reginald looked crestfallen and nodded. “I told Margery that you probably couldn’t make it. I apologize for intruding.” He got up to leave.

Mama Cat looked at his sad face and then around the room. How long could it possibly take? And how could she let that little badger die? “I think there is time to help your son before the kittens wake up. Let me get my things.”

As she gathered her things, she hoped that she wasn’t volunteering to be Christmas dinner for a family of badgers. Reginald took her bag and offered a ride on his back. Mama Cat was feeling worse and worse about her decision.

As Reginald ran through the trees for what felt like an extremely long time, Mama Cat began to worry about getting home in time to finish getting things ready for the kittens. “I wonder if Santa Claws will leave presents at a house that doesn’t offer him a bowl of cream?”

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Finally Reginald stopped. Mama Cat climbed down as he opened the door. She swallowed nervously and followed him in.

Suddenly Mama Cat was being hugged. “Oh thank you Ms. Cat for coming all the way out here on Christmas Eve! I’m Margery Badger, and we are so grateful that you are here. I know that you can help Eugene. Let me show you the way.” Mama Cat was a little overwhelmed. “Please call me Belle. I hope I can help.” She followed Margery into another room.

There was a much smaller badger laying on the bed. He was asleep but was moaning in pain. Belle looked at the wound. “It is rather nasty isn’t it? Let me see what I can do. Would you please bring some warm water so I can clean it out?”

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Margery quickly returned with the water. “Now would you please boil some water and let these herbs soak in the water for 10 minutes?” Belle carefully cleaned the wound and got a better look at it. It was deep, but didn’t seem to have caused much damage.

She took some spider webbing and put it in the wound to stop the bleeding. When Margery returned, Belle poured the hot liquid into a cloth and applied it to the wound. “You will need to re-apply the poultice every six hours for two days. Belle handed Margery a second herb. “Make a spoonful of this into tea several times a day. It smells and tastes horrible, but it will help with the healing.”

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Both of the badgers hugged Belle and asked how they could repay her. Overcome with fatigue again, she said that a ride home would be nice.

When she opened the door to her house, Belle was amazed. It was spotless. There were gifts from Santa Claws for the kittens and a note on the table.

“Dear Belle – Since you were away helping the badgers, I decided that the best gift for you would be to have an elf clean your house. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! All the best – Santa Claws.”

Belle thought she must be dreaming and curled up with the kittens.

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2

Bedlam in New York – The Conclusion

(This is part 3 of a 3-part story investigating Stringham Hospital, a psychiatric facility, and the doctors associated with it. Previously we heard an account from a former patient about his stay there and the story of our undercover work. Patient names have been changed to protect their privacy.)

You may be aware that Stringham Hospital closed at the beginning of this month due to the investigative work done by this paper. Once we had finished putting the pieces together, they painted a very ugly picture of what had been happening.

Patients became aware of the medical offices of Drs. Igor, Boris, and Bela from flyers posted on lampposts and subway walls in middle- and lower-income neighborhoods. They were written to appeal to the employees of the uptown millionaires and disgruntled plant workers:

Tired of the Bosses Getting Better Medical Care?

We can help you get first class service without the first-class price!

Visit Doctors Igor, Boris and Bela today!

No waiting!

Cash and all Insurance Accepted!

Call 212-555-5522 for an immediate appointment!

Callers would be given same-day appointments to meet with one of the doctors. The receptionist would call the insurance company to determine the person’s coverage.

If the person was paying cash, they would be given a “complimentary” bottle of sugar pills and sent on their way. If they had complete coverage under a union policy, the receptionist called Stringham so orderlies could come to office to pick up the patient. If the receptionist couldn’t get the required information or the insurance was less comprehensive, the patient was given a follow-up appointment so Stringham could decide whether adequate payment could be made.

When the patient arrived at Stringham, he was taken directly to the Burmese cat panel and admitted to the hospital. An insurance claim was initiated with the notation that it was an involuntary admittance and there was no projected date of release. The Siamese doctors received payment for each patient admitted.

Once the animals were admitted, they were taken to one of six rooms. On a rotational basis eight animals were taken from each of the rooms for “exercise”. When they arrived at the lab, Michele told them that they would be testing a new anti-psychotic drug.

Michele spoke with each of her subjects to determine which four would be easiest to control. The others were to be given a lethal injection and taken to a disposal site. The drugs being tested had been created by Dr. Stein in hopes of creating a success that would make him a rock star of science.

The only heroes in this story are the cats responsible for the disposal of the unwanted test subjects. Somehow they managed to dilute the lethal dose so that the animal was unconscious but not dead. The cat responsible for disposing of the bodies would take them to a remote part of the city and leave them to wake up. There were six cats involved in this part of the operation.

Aftermath:

The Siamese “doctors” turned out to not have medical licenses. They have been convicted of practicing medicine without a license, insurance fraud and illegally receiving kickbcks. They are currently serving a sentence of six months as “ratters” at the federal penitentiary. They will then be under house arrest for another six months at a public housing project and probation for the rest of their lives. They are required to return all money they received illegally.

Dr. Stein was convicted of malpractice, insurance fraud and unlawful imprisonment. His medical license was revoked. He will spend a year as “class pet” for a first grade class in an undisclosed Staten Island school. He will then spend a year under house arrest and probation for the rest of his life. He is required to return all money he received illegally.

Michele was convicted of attempted murder, assault, and unlawful imprisonment. She will spend the rest of her life as a “bad example” during police presentations to school children. She is living in an undisclosed precinct, ratting for them at night.

The other four Burmese were convicted of unlawful imprisonment and insurance fraud. They have each been sent to a shelter specializing in dog adoptions to act as “ratters” for six months. They will then spend a year under house arrest and probation for the rest of their lives.

Orderlies who had been with the hospital for more than six months were convicted of cruelty to animals and sentenced to a year’s probation. They are prohibited from working at any medical facility for the rest of their lives. Orderlies who had been with the hospital for less than six months were not charged.

The six cats who assisted the patients in escaping have received honors from the city and placement in fast-track positions at Gibbons Medical Research.

The patients are receiving whatever psychological and/or mental health treatment they require and will receive job placement training when they are finished if their prior positions are no longer available.

Ed and Pavlov have formed a private investigation partnership specializing in medical fraud.

 

7

Bedlam in New York – Part 2

(This is part 2 of a 3-part story investigating Stringham Hospital, a psychiatric facility, and the doctors associated with it. Previously we heard an account from a former patient about his stay there. Patient names have been changed to protect their privacy.)

As reported by archy and mehitabel

At the end of Ed’s story, we were perplexed. Was there a story there or not? Maybe what Ed needed was a competent doctor. But stories of cats tormenting rodents sounded too close to the bad old days of New York City to ignore. We decided to split up to do some investigating.

From archy:

As a cockroach, it seemed natural that I would go to the offices of Dr. Igor, Dr. Boris, and Dr. Bela. I would be able to hide in a nook and listen. Even if I was discovered, it would just look like an addition to the neighborhood.

The office is in a well-kept part of a working neighborhood. They shared the building with several other medical practices. The sign said “Medical Office” under their names. I thought it was a little strange. Usually doctors specialize: “Small Animal Skin Disorders”, “Rodent Eating Disorders,” or the like.

I went one night and settled in a nice spot in the wall where I could get to any part of the office easily. I spent the first day with Dr. Igor. He only works in the mornings. In four hours, he saw twenty-five patients. Needless to say, he only spent a few minutes with each one. But that wasn’t a red flag. Lots of doctors barely see their patients anymore before diagnosing and writing a prescription.

He had a tablet that gave him the patient’s name, address, occupation, and insurance information. It also had the reason the patient was there. A typical visit went something like this:

Doctor: Hello Jack. Nice to meet you. I see you have a cold.

Jack: Well, I’ve been feeling….

Doctor: No need to get into that, I’ve been seeing a lot of patients like you.

(Looks at the tablet)

Doctor: You can pick up a prescription on your way out. Please come back in a week so I can make sure you’re better.

Dr. Igor’s patients got one of three instructions: I’m sorry I can’t help you, I need to refer you to Dr. F.N. Stein, or come back in a week.

Listening to Dr. Boris and Dr. Bela, I heard similar responses. What triggered which response?

The receptionist was Siamese, like the doctors, and talked a lot. I’m surprised the patients could get a word in. Every call was the same: patient species, patient name, patient address, patient phone, patient federal ID number, type of insurance, insurance numbers, and date of appointment. Interestingly, they did not accept cats as patients.

When she got off the call, she immediately called the insurance company to find out when coverage began, whether medical services were covered, if psychiatric services were covered, how long benefits would continue and whether there was monetary limit to the benefits.

From mehitabel:

I applied for a job at Stringham. At the interview, they said I looked like I would be good at managing patients and hired me as an orderly. Later I discovered that only pure-blood cats would be hired into administrative/executive positions. The rest of us would be orderlies, maintenance or cooks.

We “mutt cats” were treated as if we were invisible. It was degrading, but worked to my advantage. (Ed. Note –The term “mutt cat” was applied by the hospital. This paper does not discriminate based on species or parentage.)

When a patient arrived, the first thing we did was accompany them to their medical assessment. There were five cats (Norwegian Woods) on the panel, with a Dr. Stein as the leader. Everyone who came here was admitted. There was no appeal. If they made too much trouble, an orderly gave them a shot and dragged them to their room.

There were 15-20 animals in each room. We fed them once a day, kitty kibble. Once a week, we put down new litter. The place was beyond disgusting. The patients were mainly small animals with a few dogs thrown in. There were no feline patients.

Every morning, a Burmese named Michele would tell us which animals were to be taken to the lab. She was the head researcher. We took the animals to the lab. She decided which ones she needed that day and told her maintenance staff to get rid of the rest. The maintenance staff was three “mutt cats.” They took the unneeded animals out, and we never saw them again.

We orderlies waited outside until the experiments were over. We took the test subjects back to their room. Usually they were sedated to the point of insensibility.

They fired me after two weeks. They had decided I wasn’t the right “type” for the position.

 

Coming soon: Part 3: Putting the pieces together.

 

6

Bedlam in New York

(Bedlam refers to an English hospital for the insane. During much of its 600-year existence it was noted for its screaming, moaning “inmates”, who were often held in chains or locked in rooms. Others were allowed to roam the halls and generally left to their own devices.)

As reported by archy and mehitabel

Based on information from a former patient, we have been looking into conditions at Stringham Hospital. As you may be aware, Stringham specializes in behavioral medicine and psychiatry. We have changed the names of the patients in the interests of privacy. Further, we would like to point out that there are “bad apples” in every species.

Ed’s experience started with a visit to Dr. William Igor. Ed went to see Dr. Igor with what he considered to be a common case of depression. Dr. Igor prescribed a well-known mood stabilizer which had the effect of worsening the depression, as would be expected. At his follow-up visit, Ed reported increased depression to the point of suicidal thoughts.

Dr. Igor thought that was very bad and immediately admitted him to Stringham Hospital. Ed wanted to just quit the medication, so Dr. Igor had him admitted involuntarily as a threat to himself. Being admitted involuntarily meant that Ed could not sign himself out.

At this juncture, we should point out that Ed is a muscular Nonsense rat (ed. Note – it’s a real breed from India) and Dr. Igor is a rather small Siamese cat.

As soon as he reached Stringham, Ed needed to show his insurance cards. He never saw them again. He also had to hand over his watch, wallet, and all other personal items. (As a rat, it was a relatively simple process.)

Next step was to see the doctors. He was accompanied by two large alley cats. There was a panel of 5 Norwegian Forest Cats. They looked at Ed and started talking amongst themselves about lunch. Without asking Ed a question, they told him he was obviously demented. They told the orderlies to “Take him to cell 6, oops, we mean room 6.”

Six turned out to be a rather large room with about 20 animals of various species. There were a couple of large snarling dogs chained to one wall, rabbits scratching at a pen to get out, bats in a mesh cage, and several guinea pigs who looked catatonic. The rest of the animals were running around the room chasing each other.

Ed looked around. There was cat litter in each of the cages and a large litter box in one corner. He almost gagged and said to one of the orderlies, “Do you ever change the litter?” “Of course. It’s done every Wednesday.” Ed turned green (not easy when you’re covered in fur). It was Friday.

The orderlies turned to go. Ed asked, “What do I do now?” The cats smiled evilly and told him, “Just behave and do everything you’re told to do, and nothing will happen to you.” They locked the heavy door behind them.

Ed sat in a corner, dejected. Soon a white rat joined him. “Name’s Pavlov. Who are you?” “Ed. Why are you here?” “Went to the doctor for a sore throat. He said it was a sign of neurosis. Got thrown in here. That was six months ago.”

Ed was appalled, “Why are you still here?” Pavlov looked at him sadly, “Once you’re here you never get out.” “That’s ridiculous. It’s the 21st century. Who’s your doctor?” “Dr. Joseph Boris.” Ed remembered seeing Dr. Boris’ name on the door of Dr. Igor’s office.

“Pavlov, are there any other patients of Dr. Boris or Dr. Igor here?”

“Now that you mention it, most of us were admitted by those doctors. Or Dr. Bela.”

“What happens during the day here?”

“Not much. We’re not allowed to have books or magazines or TV. Sometimes they take some of us out. Those guys usually come back looking like that.” Points to the guinea pigs.

Ed notices that in addition to the drugged animals there are also some in coats tied behind their back. “What’s up with them?”

“Medication doesn’t work. Those coats aren’t very effective though. You can chew through them in a couple of hours.”

“Does everyone come back like that?”

Pavlov looks away. “A lot don’t come back.”

They ate their dinner of dry kibble and went to bed.

In the morning, Ed was among those chosen for an “exercise.” He was strapped to a chair, than felt a poke in his shoulder.

The next thing he remembers is waking up by the river with a note: “Hope you enjoyed your cat nap.”

 

Coming soon: Part 2: Is there a problem or is Ed really mentally ill?