The reason, according to today’s unexpected announcement (made while I was gone for the afternoon), is because the MPTF’s acute care hospital and long term care nursing home are losing $10 million a year. ”This shortfall is expected to widen significantly in coming years. The problem is that the vast majority of hospital and LTC patients are covered by government insurance programs whose reimbursement rates have not kept pace with fast-rising operating costs. MPTF has been making up the shortfall by dipping into its investment reserves. Based on current projections, continuing to subsidize the hospital and LTC facility would likely exhaust available reserves within five years.” About 100 retirees currently live in the MPTF home in Woodland Hills with what I know to be a waiting list. (Everyone I talk to always says there are not enough MPTF health care facilities, not too many!) Yet the MPTF’s press release claims that the closures come because of “declining demand” and that MPTF’s acute-care hospital “for the past few years has rarely been called upon to care for more than ten patients at any one time”. It says these closure decisions are the “result of more than three years of study and analysis by MPTF staff and outside experts”.

So much for the Motion Picture & Television Fund’s promise of “unwavering commitment” to the entertainment industry, and vice versa. This is a huge story with major ramifications for everyone who considered the Motion Picture And Television Fund facilities as their safety net in times of sickness and old age. What else might be closed next? I find it hard to believe that, with all the enormous wealth in the Hollywood, the community couldn’t look after its own better than this. “MPTF is initiating these changes because it’s the right thing to do, but the fact is that we have no choice,” Jeffrey Katzenberg, chairman of the MPTF Foundation Board, said in the statement. “Although we are in good shape today, the acute-care hospital and long-term care facility are generating operating deficits that could bankrupt MPTF in a very few years.” C’mon, there are fundraisers all the time, including that big-ticket Saturday “Night Before” the Oscars party hosted by Katzenberg himself. For crissakes, the old Motion Picture Relief Fund was founded back in 1921 by Hollywood luminaries Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith to help people in the entertainment industry who fell on hard times. How can this be happening now? I am really sick about this, just sick.

As a result of the planned phase-outs, the 100 patients currently residing in the long-term care facility on MPTF’s Wasserman campus in Woodland Hills will be “relocated over the course of 2009 to selected nursing homes in and around Los Angeles. Every patient will be evaluated individually and matched to the most appropriate facility in the area for their particular needs and family situation. The first transfers will not begin for at least 60 days, unless a patient specifically requests to be moved sooner.” MPTF’s acute-care hospital, begun in the 1940s, will continue to operate until late 2009. Thereafter, acute-care patients will receive their care at hospitals near MPTF’s Woodland Hills campus. The statement said the phase-out of the hospital and LTC unit will not affect the approximately 185 residents of MPTF’s independent- and assisted-living facilities (including the Country House, the Fran & Ray Stark Villas, and the Frances Goldwyn Lodge). MPTF’s six area health centers, which serve some 60,000 industry workers and their families, will be similarly unaffected. The Fund also intends to continue operating its Harry’s Haven memory care facility.

Dr. David Tillman, MPTF’s president and chief executive, said the impending closure “reflects some sobering economic realities that are affecting healthcare institutions nationwide.” To try to limit the problem of phasing out its hospital and nursing home operations, MPTF said today it will expand its community-based efforts. These efforts include the creation of “teams” to deliver services to retirees at their homes or care facilities. “Our emphasis on community-based care reflects the growing desire of today’s active seniors to live as independently as possible for as long as possible,” Tillman said. Nice try, guys, to put the best face on a bad situation. Here is the announcement which shamefully tries to sugar-coat things:

MOTION PICTURE & TELEVISION FUND TO PUT NEW EMPHASIS ON COMMUNITY-BASED CARE FOR SENIORS

Declining Demand and Challenging Economic Outlook Force Decision To Phase Out Acute-Care Hospital and Long-Term Care Unit

WOODLAND HILLS, CA – January 14, 2009 – The Motion Picture & Television Fund (MPTF), the entertainment industry’s premier health and social services charity, announced today a major realignment of resources under which the Fund’s acute-care hospital and long-term care (LTC) facility will be phased out in favor of community-based programs aimed at assisting the growing number of seniors who prefer to “age in place”—that is, live safely and independently in their own homes for as long as possible.

As part of this realignment, MPTF will be expanding its existing community-based efforts by establishing a network of Community Care Teams that will bring a variety of medical and social services to entertainment industry retirees—whether they live in their own homes, in retirement communities, or in long-term care facilities. At the same time, MPTF will be making plans to modernize and improve its independent- and assisted-living residential facilities.

Driven by the changing needs of the population MPTF serves — as well as an increasingly dire economic outlook — the decision to concentrate on community-based care is the result of more than three years of study and analysis by MPTF staff and outside experts.

“The world is changing and MPTF has been changing with it,” said Frank G. Mancuso, chairman of the MPTF Corporate Board. “For nearly 90 years, we have embodied Hollywood’s unique commitment to taking care of its own. Focusing on a community-based approach will allow us to continue honoring this commitment for another 90 years.”

“Our new emphasis on community-based care reflects the growing desire of today’s active seniors to live as independently as possible for as long as possible,” said David Tillman, M.D., president and CEO of MPTF. “It also reflects some sobering economic realities that are affecting healthcare institutions nationwide. With costs skyrocketing and government reimbursement declining, operating our own acute-care hospital and long-term care facility is draining our resources at an alarming rate. The good news is that by emphasizing a community-based approach to senior care, MPTF will not only be able to stay on a solid financial footing, it will also be able to assist many more retirees than we do now—thousands rather than hundreds.”

“MPTF is initiating these changes because it’s the right thing to do, but the fact is that we have no choice,” added Jeffrey Katzenberg, chairman of the MPTF Foundation Board. “Although we are in good shape today, the acute-care hospital and long-term care facility are generating operating deficits that could bankrupt MPTF in a very few years. The entertainment community depends on MPTF for a wide range of social and medical services—everything from healthcare to emergency financial assistance to childcare and family counseling—and if MPTF doesn’t do something now, pretty soon it won’t be able to do anything.”

“These changes will safeguard MPTF’s ability to continue meeting our community’s medical and social service needs for decades to come,” said Casey Wasserman, chairman of the Wasserman Foundation, one of MPTF’s biggest benefactors. “MPTF’s willingness to confront these challenging issues head on—and its ability to come up with creative solutions—makes it more deserving than ever of our support.” Wasserman emphasized that this view is shared by his grandmother, current MPTF Board Trustee Edie Wasserman, who along with her late husband Lew Wasserman has long been one of the organization’s most passionate and dedicated supporters.

MPTF’s new emphasis on community-based care will build on existing efforts such as its Elder Connection program and Center for Aging, which provide social, financial, and healthcare services for industry seniors who want to remain in their own homes. The centerpiece will be a new network of Community Care Teams, consisting of MPTF doctors, nurses, and social workers who will reach out to Fund-eligible seniors in Southern California, whether they are in their own homes, in retirement communities, or in outside nursing homes, to ensure they are getting the support they need.

As a result of the planned phase-outs, approximately 100 patients currently residing in the long-term care facility on MPTF’s Wasserman campus in Woodland Hills will be relocated over the course of 2009 to selected nursing homes in and around Los Angeles. Every patient will be evaluated individually and matched to the most appropriate facility in the area for their particular needs and family situation. The first transfers will not begin for at least 60 days, unless a patient specifically requests to be moved sooner.

“Closing our long-term care facility does not alter MPTF’s historical commitment to industry veterans and their families,” Dr. Tillman said. “We’ll still be there for our people to make sure they get the care they need and deserve. We will work closely with all our current patients and their families to ensure a safe and successful transition for everyone. Once they are relocated, our Community Care Teams will visit them regularly. We will offer the same service to all Fund-eligible patients who might need long-term care in the future.”

MPTF’s acute-care hospital, which for the past few years has rarely been called upon to care for more than ten patients at any one time, will continue to operate until late 2009. Thereafter, acute-care patients will receive their care at hospitals near MPTF’s Woodland Hills campus.

The phase-out of the hospital and LTC unit will not affect the approximately 185 residents of MPTF’s independent- and assisted-living facilities (including the Country House, the Fran & Ray Stark Villas, and the Frances Goldwyn Lodge). MPTF’s six area health centers, which serve some 60,000 industry workers and their families, will be similarly unaffected. The Fund also intends to continue operating its Harry’s Haven memory care facility.

As a result of the hospital and LTC facility phase-outs, some 290 jobs will be eliminated over the course of the year. This represents roughly a third of all MPTF’s hourly workers and a third of its managerial staff. MPTF will provide out-placement counseling and host job fairs in an effort to help all the displaced workers find new employment.

The hospital and long-term care facility currently generate an operating deficit of $10 million a year. This shortfall is expected to widen significantly in coming years. The problem is that the vast majority of hospital and LTC patients are covered by government insurance programs whose reimbursement rates have not kept pace with fast-rising operating costs.

MPTF has been making up the shortfall by dipping into its investment reserves. Based on current projections, continuing to subsidize the hospital and LTC facility would likely exhaust available reserves within five years.

The non-profit Motion Picture & Television Fund, headquartered in Woodland Hills, was founded in 1921 to provide relief for those in the film industry who had fallen on hard times. Today, 88 years later, MPTF is a major service provider supporting the health and well being of the entertainment community. Healthcare, childcare, retirement living and social/charitable services are offered with compassion and respect for the dignity of the whole person. Care is offered through six outpatient health centers, charitable financial assistance and community outreach programs, a full-scale retirement community. and a children’s day care center.

Editor-in-Chief Nikki Finke - tip her here.

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