Left: Our own JOHN SPAREY, whose caricatures and artwork have adorned this very blog, attended the meeting. John is a resident of the Frances Goldwyn Lodge at the MPTF campus in Woodland Hills (which is not affected by the announced closures.)
Thursday night, September 10, Guild members met to hear both sides of the argument regarding the announced closing of the Motion Picture and Television Fund's hospital and long term care facility (skilled nursing) in Woodland Hills.There were two presentations made, one from Ken Scherer and Mark Fleischer of the Motion Picture and Television Fund, which operate the Wasserman Campus and seven MPTF clinics which are an integral part of TAG members' Motion Picture Industry Health Plan.
Since January, there's been a dispute between the Fund and family and friends of MPTF long term care residents ("Saving the Lives of Our Own") who will soon be relocated from the Woodland Hills campus to other long-term care facilities in the area.
Friends and family don't believe the closure of long-term care is warranted or necessary. The MPTF board maintains that long term care is a huge drain on MPTF cash reserves because it runs large annual deficits, and has to be closed so that the Fund won't run out of money.
Mr. Scherer and Mr. Fleischer told meeting attendees the following:
* The long-term care facility has lost $10 million per year, which next year will rise to $12 million ($1 million per month).
* The on-site hospital has been under-utilized for some years; the ICU, with 7 beds, had an average occupancy of one patient and was running a deficit of $1 million per year.
* Long-term care patients are not being abandoned but have been asked to move to one of 22 long-term care facilities that the Fund has vetted.
* Long-term care patients have not died because of trauma caused by changes at the facility of the prospect of a move. Residents have died at the same rate in 2009 as in 2007 or 2008, before any announcement of closure was made.
* More than 200 assisted care and independent residents will continue to live at the Wasserman campus in Woodland Hills, and their situations will not change.
* No MPTF funds were lost to Bernie Madoff, since no money was invested with him. However, the Fund's investment portfolio suffered losses in late 2008 and early 2009 when the markets dropped 50%.
At the end of the presentation, Scherer and Fleischer took a half-hour of questions, after which representatives from "Saving the Lives of Our Own" (Nancy Biederman, Daniel Quinn, John Sparey, and Richard Stellar), made a presentation:
* For every occupied bed in Long Term Care, the MPTF receives $130,065 annually.
* Top management at MPTF (four people) received $2,002,465.00 in salaries, benefits and expenses in 2007.
* Transfer trauma: Within the first sixty days of the announcement of closure, 12 residents died at the MPTF facility; five more died within days or weeks of transfer.
*CEO David Tillman has said that "No amount of donations or fund-raising would change the MPTF's decision to close the long-term care facility."
* Some residents were moved to other levels of care at the home and are now frightened about admitting that they have an injury or illness, for fear that they will be moved off the property.
* Long term care and rehab admissions no longer exist on campus.
Above: President Koch listens as Mark Fleischer (MPTF Board Member, as well as grandson of Max and son of Richard Fleischer) and Ken Scherer of the Motion Picture and Television Fund defend the decision to close the facilities.
The two sides agree on various points: That the initial announcement of closing was badly handled. That the campus hospital is losing money. That there is an ongoing deficit. ("Saving Our Own" maintains this is from mismanagement.)
Some of the things disagreed on: that there are "luxury condos" going to be built where the hospital and long term care facility now stand, that residents have died because of stress and trauma (Mark Fleischer stated that his mother was a Long Term Care resident at the time he voted as a board member to close the unit. "It was a painful decision and we tried to avoid it, but the whole campus and Fund are at risk if we don't stop the millions in deficits.")
Above: Richard Stellar and Nancy Biederman of Saving The Lives Of Our Own, a group dedicated to preventing the closure of the MPTF facilities.
My take away from all that I heard Thursday night was that initial communication about the closure was fumbled, that the "Save Our Own" group is sincerely motivated and stressed out about what's happening to their loved ones, but that the Woodland Hills retirement campus and the Motion Picture and Television Fund have big financial problems stemming from the MPTF's portfolio investments heading south and the drop in fund-raising (because many people's investment portfolios have also gone south.)
Nobody appears to dispute that there are money problems (i.e., flows of red ink) although "Saving Our Own" believes the problems our surmountable without closing Long Term Care.
Whichever side you believe to be right, we urge you to follow the links, investigate what's going on, and make up your own mind.