On January 14, 2009, residents and families of the long term care unit (LTCU) were notified by mail of the closure and imminent re-location of elderly and handicapped residents under the care of the MPTF. In a meeting held by former CEO Dr. David Tillman with concerned family members, it was revealed that the LTCU and Acute Care Center would be closing. The meeting became extremely contentious as it became known that the reasons for closure had been simmering for five years without the knowledge of residents who had been admitted to the facility under the false promise of having a 'home for the rest of their lives'. The main reason given to the families was that the LTCU was losing $10 million dollars per year, and that this would ultimately bankrupt the fund. It was noted by actors John Schneider and the late David Carradine, who attended the meeting in support of the families, that the MPTF was indeed not living up to their credo of "taking care of their own" and had failed to notify the families and the entertainment industry of the closures in a proper, humane way.
At the time of the announcement, 138 individuals were receiving long term care at the facility. Jeffrey Katzenberg, current chairman of the MPTF Foundation Board, said the fund realized they had no choice but to close the facility, stating "the acute-care hospital and long-term-care facility are generating operating deficits that could bankrupt MPTF in a very few years."
There were over 500 hospital admissions and approximately 100 long-term residents alone in 2008. The Fund administrators projected their shortfall would only grow as a result of the deteriorating economy.
Primary sources of funding for long term care and the hospital are Medicare and Medi-Cal. The facility claims it receives approximately $20 million a year in reimbursements, though operating costs were $30 million a year. The MPTF receives approximately $10,500 per patient, per month from Medi-Cal. The California Healthcare Foundation found that the MPTF receives 80% of its patient funding from Medi-Cal.
Soon thereafter, a grass-roots organization Saving The Lives of Our Own (STLOOO) was created to organize residents, family members, and supporters to fight the closure of the LTCU. A Facebook group was generated that quickly became 3500+ strong, to also support those residents and families who were facing eviction by the MPTF. Soon thereafter, the law firm of Girardi + Keese came aboard to represent residents and family members who held a guardian ad litum for their elderly family members.
In the ensuing months, the MPTF had to deal with a barrage of claims that revealed inaccuracies in claims of the fund's alleged financial peril, and the absence of any exposure of the elderly residents to transfer trauma. According to a STLOOO member, the daughter-in-law of one resident reached out to him over the Internet stating that her mother had refused to eat on the second day in her new residence. Two weeks later the woman had died following complications due to pneumonia. Claims of bullying by social service workers and more deaths that could be attributed to transfer trauma were reported to family members by other family members. Additionally, in an act that could allege intentional infliction of emotional distress, the MPTF placed a fake studio prop cop car that was painted to resemble an Los Angeles Police Dept. cruiser in the parking lot that had an intimidating effect on the elderly residents who knew they were facing 'eviction' from the property. Again, Ken Scherer in an interview was quoted as saying the idea of the prop police car was 'wrong', his admission surprising families.
Articles published in the Los Angeles Times, the Daily News and online by The Wrap.com and Nikki Finke's Hollywood Daily continually hammered the Motion Picture and Television Fund with new found facts, reporting of resident deaths, and other facts that flew in the face of what the MPTF was claiming.
The Screen Actors' Guild and The Teamsters' local chapter came to the aid of the residents of the LTCU by decrying the closure and standing with the residents and families at several rallies held in the Los Angeles area.
In October 2009, when it was originally set to close down the LTCU, the MPTF renewed their operating license of the LTCU and Acute Care Unit for another year.
CEO David Tillman has since resigned, and in his stead the MPTF board has seated Bob Beitcher, former ousted CEO of Panavision.
Read more about this topic: Motion Picture & Television Country House And Hospital
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