images-3.thumbnail.jpgSix senior citizen residents of the Motion Picture Television Fund have died since the closures of the long-term care facility and hospital at its Woodland Hills retirement home were announced January 14– what some say is a far higher death rate than usual.

According to nursing staff, one woman took to her bed as soon as she heard she was being evicted and refused to get up again for a week, while another who had been in apparently good health, died very soon after getting the news.

According to a letter sent by several MPTF families to the home’s chief executive, David Tillman obtained by The Wrap some of the 100-plus residents–many of them in their 80s and 90s–threatened with removal to other facilities before the end of 2009  feel “tormented” and are reluctant to eat.

The letter to Tillman said:

Some have stated that they do not want to live if they have to leave their home here; they prefer to die right now without going on to some other place.

Meanwhile, the MPTF’s tax filings reveal that CEO Tillman earned $502,200 in 2006 and $596,957 in 2007, while MPTF’s chief financial officer, Frank Guarrera made $359,162 in 2006 to $411,153 in 2007. Their total annual salary: Over $1 million each each year. The Wrap learned that:

the MPTF’s own audited accounts show that total salaries and related expenses came to a staggering $60.7 million in 2007, up from $58.9 million in 2006.

To me the overall increase seems in line with cost of living raises, though the chief executives’ raises are well above 10% each, which is extreme.

MPTF board chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg’s pre-Oscar Night Before gala has raised $6 million in each of the past two years, while additional fund raising–including $10 million alone from Jodie Foster–paid for the new $20 million Saban Center For Health And Wellnesson the MPTF Home grounds.  

The reason cited for closing the long-term care nursing home and the acute-care hospital, displacing roughly 100 residents and firing 240 employees? An annual deficit of $10 million a year over the past four years, though the MPTF’s own accounting figures and tax returns show no sign of the $10 million losses mentioned in the fund’s press releases and public statements, according to The Wrap’s investigation, which adds:

Residents and their families say they are in touch with a heavy-hitting Los Angeles law firm and are looking into a lawsuit to force the MPTF to keep at least the long-term care facility, if not also the hospital, open.

While the MPTF says it will continue to maintain independent- and assisted-living facilities which house 185 clients and six health care centers, as well as its Harry’s Haven memory care facility–and  MPTF executives have told residents that they are planning to replace the hospital and long-term care facility with an assisted living condo complex, although they have made no public announcement—one wonders where residents will go when they "outgrow" the assisted living center.

The MPTF issued a statement Wednesday refuting many of the claims made by The Wrap:

 MPTF is, in fact, continuing its commitment to comprehensive care for seniors in the entertainment industry, including those who will need to relocate.  Each person who is relocated will be followed by a Community Care Team consisting of a doctor, a nurse practitioner, nurses, pastoral care and a social worker, all of whom will continue to be involved with their care…

Medi-Cal reimbursement, which represents more than 80 percent of  MPTF patient load, has not kept up with the operating costs of the MPTF hospital and long-term care unit.  MPTF provides millions of additional dollars to provide the outstanding service and care that has been so widely acknowledged…

While this decision is surely causing stress among residents and their families, it has not resulted in change in our usual experience of illnesses, physical ailments or death.  Because we know how stressful this is to those involved, each resident being relocated has been assigned a team of professionals to help ensure their physical and emotional comfort during the transition.

The salaries of CEO Tillman and CFO Guarra were not disputed.

Lisa Derrick

Lisa Derrick

Los Angeles native, attended UC Berkeley and Loyola Marymount University before punk rock and logophilia overtook her life. Worked as nightclub columnist, pop culture journalist and was a Hollywood housewife before writing for and editing Sacred History Magazine. Then she discovered the thrill of politics. She also appears frequently on the Dave Fanning Show, one of Ireland's most popular radio broadcasts.