Reaction To MPTF State/Federal Violations
SHAMEFUL! California Public Health Finds MPTF Broke Laws

I have received a sickening statement from Bob Beitcher, the MPTF President/CEO, which redefines the term chutzpah. In it, he asserts, “The deficiencies asserted by the California Department of Public Health based on its annual ‘unannounced’ survey in June have been widely misreported in the industry news media and blogs.” That’s right, it’s all my fault! At the heart of Beitcher’s argument is that, hey, the California Public Health Department says the MPTF broke state and federal laws by transferring its acute care patients and making them sicker — but not to worry: that was an “unannounced” visit (which means MPTF didn’t have time to fool the inspectors). Plus, the MPTF is caring for even more frail patients (so what they did to the transferred patients doesn’t count). And the MPTF’s law-breaking was the result of only documentation errors so they are “tightening up procedures and re-training staff [for] lapses in administrative paperwork” (not bothering to actually give better care). I wish I were kidding. Here is what I emailed back to the MPTF’s PR people who gave me this nonsense: “Excuse me but I am not an idiot. I read the report and I know what it says. I misinterpreted nothing.”:

STATEMENT FROM BOB BEITCHER, MPTF President/CEO

The deficiencies asserted by the California Department of Public Health based on its annual “unannounced” survey in June have been widely misreported in the industry news media and blogs. As a result, the MPTF long-term care situation continues to be cast in the negative light created by the vocal family members of some of our residents. 

The deficiency relating to the statute governing 30 day Notices of Transfer is a dispute over administrative procedure and very much a case of form over substance. The Department is interpreting the statute together with MPTF’s closure plan to mean that MPTF was required to issue 30-day notices of transfer to residents who voluntarily (!!) left the facility after announcement of the closure. For example, we have residents who gave us very short notice, as in 2 days, that they had been offered space in a community facility and were preparing to move. This deficiency is telling us that at that time we should have then provided a 30-day Notice of Transfer, essentially an eviction notice. This is an unprecedented and, we believe, incorrect interpretation of the statute that requires notices for involuntary transfers. It’s obvious why we wouldn’t have served a 30-Day notice: besides being contrary to our understanding of our responsibility under the statute, it would have been insulting to the residents and families who understood the Fund’s desire to phase out the long term care facility and responded accordingly by voluntarily initiating a transfer, and furthermore it would have been utterly confusing to hand them the equivalent of an eviction notice at that time.

We have appealed the alleged deficiency through a dispute resolution process, but do not expect the Department to reverse the surveyors’ conclusions. The Department is holding to the claim that any transfer, voluntary or involuntary, should be preceded by a 30-day notice, while our claim is that it should only apply to involuntary transfers initiated by the MPTF. Our intention is to vigorously defend our interpretation of the statute and take it to the highest levels in the system.

Some have used other portions of the survey results to support their claims that MPTF has cut back on services and is under-staffed or otherwise neglectful of the residents, but it is important to note that the survey found no deviations in staffing levels or serious deficiencies in care provided to the residents. Deficiencies in documentation, yes, but not in provision of care. To refute the anecdotal claims of deterioration in quality, we have attached the results of a recent survey compiled by the Center on Medicaid-Medicare Services reflecting nothing short of outstanding performance in Quality Indicators by the Fund staff at the long term care facility.

Once again, I assure you that management and staff remain absolutely committed to safeguarding the health and security of our LTC residents, that our staffing levels conform to all regulatory requirements, and that we do not condone or tolerate any employee behavior that isn’t consistent with our policies.

I’d like to remind everyone that each and every day, in ways that are real, moving, completely positive, and in many cases transformative, the Motion Picture and Television Fund touches hundreds of lives of our industry members. Whether it’s at one of our seven health centers around southern California where we provide the highest quality health services for 60,000 industry members and their families a year, through our social services programs that provide over a $1 million a year in financial assistance to keep industry members in their homes, subsidize health insurance, or cover the basics of daily existence, through our various programs for seniors that are enabling them to age at home with dignity and security, through our media programs on the Wasserman Campus that enable our residents to continue to lead creatively rich and fulfilling lives into their 90s and yes, in some cases, their 100’s, the MPTF upholds its commitment to the industry that “taking care of our own” is a mission of meaning and purpose that we can all be proud of.

In a recent report published by the Center for Medicaid/Medicare Services, the care provided by the Motion Picture and Television Fund’s Long Term Care unit across-the-board far exceeded State and National averages – despite the fact that we care for more challenging patients (older, more co-morbidities). These are among the most important Quality Indicators that we use to benchmark our performance against others at the State and National level.

Below are just some of the metrics (compiled during the period 2/1/10 to 7/31/10):

– Over 66% of our residents are 85+ years old compared to 37% in the State and 41% in the National pool. Keep this in mind when you look at the other statistics because it only amplifies the wonderful job our staff does with the frail elderly.

– In Stability of Conditions, only 6.7% of our residents experience an acute episode or chronic flare-up compared to 25% in the State and 26% in the National pool.

– In Accidents, our residents experienced 14% fewer falls than in the State and 88% fewer falls than in the National pool. This is one of the areas highlighted by many who are misinterpreting the CDPH study. It is acknowledged that falls occur with regularity in the elderly.

– In Physical Functioning, our percentage of residents who spend most of their time in bed or in a chair was 63% lower than the State average and in line with the National average. Remember that the average age of our population is considerably higher than both the State and National averages, so this is truly outstanding.

– In Quality of Life, we had no residents who were physically restrained compared to 5% in the State and 3% in the National pool.

– Again in Quality of Life, we had no residents who showed signs of little or no activity compared to 3% in the State and 2% in the National pool.

– In Skin Care, we had 1 high-risk resident with pressure ulcers (bedsores) and no low-risk residents with the same condition. The State average for each is 13% and 12% and the National average is 12% and 2% respectively. This is one of the most painful condition of the frail elderly and an are where the MPTF long-term care staff absolutely excels.

For anyone who puts more weight on data compiled by an unbiased government agency than anecdotes, this tells a compelling story of outstanding care provided the MPTF LTC staff. “Taking care of our own” is exemplified in the comparative data provided by CMS. Where the California Department of Public Health observed shortcomings in our documentation, we are tightening up procedures and re-training staff. But please do not let lapses in administrative paperwork mask the exceptional quality of service at the MPTF long-term care unit.

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