MPTF, I’ve Got Your Number

Once again I was misled into thinking that open communication was less than a day away

A truncated "conference call" took place last week between the families and the MPTF brass; it took not more than 10 minutes. As I dialed into the conference, and entered the code on my cell phone, what I thought might be a glimmer of hope fluttered in the recesses of my Droid. Meretricious and unsavory inferences aside, I had expectations that the conference call may indeed be the harbinger of better things to come.

The seemingly hastily scheduled call was announced as a FedEx letter on my doorstep, delivered 24 hours before show time. Could this be another quickly cobbled together attempt to transmit what had already been decided as per the m.o. of the MPTF? On the face of it, the letter invited the recipient to log into a "conference" of sorts where the new message of consolidation of care would be discussed in an open forum. Once again I was misled by the MPTF into thinking that open communication was less than a day away.

True interactivity was stifled by technical glitches. As a true conspiracy theorist, my spidey sense was tingling with good reason. Got a question for the MPTF panel? Upon commencement of the call, you are instructed to enter a two-digit code and then spell your name before your question is considered. Many people were unable to have their code accepted, and when entering the code to ask a question, you were disconnected from the conversation albeit momentarily, but enough to miss what was being said as you maneuvered around the technical miasma that appeared purposely designed to confuse and fail.

That allowed maybe three or four questions, whereupon a disembodied voice announced, "That is all the time for questions," leaving numerous family members disgusted and disconnected. Another failing grade in this latest attempt at communication, or was the "f— up" done on purpose? I would suggest that the MPTF use a different strategy as its self-deprecating, on-message delivery has become transparent and obvious.

OK, I'll stop my bitching. Let's investigate the impact the consolidation has on our elderly. As an attempt at communication, it was something. In this case a "something" that may actually be a result of all of our hard work in carrying the flag of the elderly nursing home residents and holding true to the credo of Taking Care of Our Own. Realistically, this development may be more a result of the recent news of Messrs. Clooney and Howard's commitment to work on filling the coffers of the nursing home.

I realize this isn't about money. However, when a major fundraiser and catalyst for hope arrives on a white horse, you lower the drawbridge and provide a route for good people to work at a level that invites other good people. A rich man's "buzz hub" for all of you who took marketing classes in the '80s can work wonders. But I digress.

If you've read this far, I'll reward you with the reason for the newfound hope that I feel: The MPTF has recognized a building as the Skilled Nursing Facility (referred to as SNIF by the newly hep to healthcare terminology CEO Bob Beitcher). The facility will hopefully hold true to the communal spirit that welcomed my mother when she entered the Motion Picture Home's nursing home. Even though the corporate speak that confirms that this won't be the last stop for most as they start the evictions in the cloudy future, it is a movement in the right direction.

In their dubious wisdom, the MPTF is creating a convergence of residents in order to consolidate services. Their characterization that this is an upgrade may indeed be true, it is the most serene and upscale section of the LTC. Having everyone together in closer quarters is a good thing, and something that we have been calling for. Our movement and call for reason may finally be resulting in positive movement.

Like most movements, there is initial shoving and sweating, grimacing and bearing down as you work for a successful outcome. My concerns, voiced during the call-in section, is that again there has not been sufficient planning especially when addressing the possibility of "transfer trauma." But, like many people on the board and those running the Home, I have no business or experience in health care, so my questions were at best a layman's view mixed with concern regarding the quality of life for my aging mother.

Again, true to form, my earnest question was answered with a banal and trite observance of, "There are no guarantees in life." I had only asked if they would back up their contention that all of the residents were fit to be moved. All of them? I found it a little hard to digest that there wasn't one resident, aged, infirmed, uncommunicative — that a move might not be in their best interests.

Again, I'll stop my whining in the hopes that Beitcher and Co. won't "f— up" or get a "failing grade" at this glimmer of hope. There is a lot at stake: the life of my mother and the other residents whose environment will change forever at a time of their lives where it can be most jarring, and dangerous.

I hope they know what they're doing.