The MPTF’s Deadly Passages

The Motion Picture Home corrupts Gail Sheehy’s “Passages” to its own ends

On Friday, June 18, Gail Sheehy shilled for the Motion Picture and Television Fund's program to divest itself of its most needy residents.  

The same author who speaks so eloquently on behalf of the elderly and their caregivers was providing a platform where, from what I hear, her book title "Passages in Caregiving" took on a dark and foreboding meaning when it comes to the MPTF.

In the recent Newsweek article "The Caregiving Boomerang," Sheehy diagrams the radical change of life that occurs when the needs of the elderly are passed on to their children. She describes the challenges beautifully as she reminisces about her own experiences with her husband.

Ms. Sheehy's "Passages" has been corrupted by the MPTF and skewed to inspire images of a route conceived in secret and created to offload the elderly and wipe their hands clean of them.

Sheehy's book addresses the family caregiver and offers suggestions on "turning chaos into confidence."

The MPTF must have recognized Ms. Sheehy as a fellow traveler. The author's real colors plumed when offering suggestions on how to survive the arduous and unforgiving role of the family caregiver. Sheehy's advice for the overworked and stressed-out who might be at the end of their caregiving rope? "Take a swim. Call a friend for coffee. Window-shop. Try a yoga class."

Could this have been more revealing of the MPTF mindset?

Ms. Sheehy co-exists with the MPTF in a world of swimming pools and yoga classes. I'm sure as good as Ms. Sheehy is in assuming the lotus position, she's never back-washed a pool filter.

What about the grown children who live from paycheck to paycheck? What about the remaining elderly wife who could sooner lift a truck than she could help her husband in and out of a bath? Where does one window-shop when the basic challenges of paying the rent or feeding your kids become all-consuming? What day spa accepts food stamps?  

The class system has never been more evident than it is at the Motion Picture Home. The facility that was to care for the below- and above-the-line as a single community huddled within the ample bosom of the entertainment industry is defiling the future of healthcare. The MPTF board of directors, ensconced in their world of money and entitlement, thumb their nose and flip the bird at the laborers, drivers, set decorators and others who couldn't even begin to afford the cost in time and money to care for an elderly parent.  

Gale Sheehy is the harbinger of a message best read in the society column, or as a priority email to her publishers and editors, with the suggestion that they forward it to their help.

She should update her book "Passages in Caregiving" with a story about Lil and Irv.

Irv is a retired film and video editor who is attended daily by his wife, Lil, at the MPTF. Irv was a capable, hard working tradesman who was president of his union twice. Irv's talents enabled the precise action, rhythm and cadence that catapulted the careers of many stars and the quality of many cinematic achievements. Irv has won an Emmy, Irv has given the industry his life, Irv has paid his dues.

Irv is maybe the luckiest man on the planet because of Lil. Lil lavishes attention on him while supervising to every detail of his diet and care. While Lil and I talked about her grandchildren, UCLA, Irv's background today — she never missed a beat feeding Irv. As inspiring an example of multitasking that this was, I wondered how Lil would be able to pull it off had Irv been denied the continuation of care that the motion picture industry promised to him.

Lil weighs maybe 75 pounds sopping wet. As my uncle Harry used to say, "She's no bigger than a minute."  Had Lil offered Irv the care that she could afford in their own home, how long would it be until Lil needed nursing care herself? How would Lil lift the strapping 180-pound Irv into a tub? How would Lil react to a life-threatening emergency?

Maybe Gale Sheehy could explain the operation of a defibrillator to Lil, or even help Lil get Irv into the bath? Ms. Sheehy might suggest that Lil enjoy a day at the spa or go window-shopping along Rodeo Drive — however, I think Lil's pleasures come from working with Irv's caregivers in a skilled environment that tends to Irv's needs when Lil runs out of energy. In this way you know Lil will be back next day, and the next, and the next.

Gale Sheehy's Park Avenue, weekends-in-the Hamptons approach to elder care is removed from the reality of the rank-and-file while feeding the voracious appetite of the rich and famous. The appetite that gorges itself on the advice that it offers, that it can afford — and regurgitates the commitment that their predecessors have made to the elderly.

I wish I could be more in the moment when it came to Gail Sheehy's presentation at the Directors Guild. I was banned.

Had I been a millionaire, I might have gained entrance into the Sheehy event at the DGA. Hurt feelings are easily suppressed when you see a potential donor at your door who can throw a lot of money at a problem. Unfortunately, a last-minute email from the MPTF counsel advised me that I would not be welcome, given the "vitriolic attacks made by me in person and in various forums."

They know I'm just some schlub who speaks out and doesn't have the wallet to fight the system on their terms. Maybe I need to sign up for a yoga class?