About a month ago, the scuttlebutt around the Motion Picture Home was that "'the champagne was on ice," as the saviors of motion picture industry long-term care were about to reveal themselves.
Our appetite for a solution had been whet by yet another promise that came on the heels of the dashed hopes of a Providence-UCLA partnership. This one a promise that held more promise than the previous promise. Once again the crack MPTF wordmongers were spinning hope into an emptiness that has become palpable and all too familiar.
Are we to understand that no news is no news, or that no news is bad news?
The residents have suffered through a lot. Those who remain in the all but
emptied long-term care facility go about their daily routines, blessedly unaware of
how those who control their industry has failed them. The COO, who is the co-architect of the planned dismantling has returned from an illness, ending the hiatus of hate and tainting the promise and hope for a future that promises a return to the credo of "we take care of our own."
That same COO, who recently gave a glowing testimonial to the ousted Dr. David Tillman in his new role as First Chief Medical Officer of Partners In Care, continues to have the support of his handlers and apologists. Tillman's outrageous salary and golden parachute took money from the mouths of our elderly and enabled a soft landing on another high-paying executive position. Fortunately for us, he's someone else's problem. Unfortunately for us, the imprimatur of his and COO Seth Ellis' final solution for long-term care has never been completely erased.
As a matter of fact, it lives on as more residents die.
Consider the paper tiger A-listers who came to play and in the end, succumbed to the ministrations and manipulations of the MPTF board. George Clooney had seemed at one point to be chomping at the bit to help. Unfortunately, the tug on his leash was urgent and firmer than the strength of his haunches. We heard no more from him as his voice submerged to a decibel level only heard by the millionaires and billionaires who populate the MPTF board. The same people who plot the course of the entertainment industry couldn't get it together to offer something stronger than a non-binding letter of intent, showing us that indeed, there was no provicence in Providence.
And now that the letter of intent is gone, we have only their word that they are "working on it."
Those who fought most vociferously and put their reputations and careers on the line were painted as "publicity hounds" and "people who you wouldn't want to be in the same room with." Those people who were mocked and vilified by the MPTF board won the battle for the future of long-term care, and they will win the war. Working actors and actresses did the heavy lifting as their more famous peers sidestepped the excrement of Darfur villages while being illuminated by news videographers and broadcast into your living room during prime time.
Where were they when those whose shoulders they stood on to achieve stardom cried out for them? Clooney's assurances of solidarity with the families and residents still echo hollowly in the vacated halls of the old spacious and nurturing pavilion, where people like my mother waited out their final days before being herded and squeezed into a second floor nursing area without the caregivers they were used to — as promised by the MPTF management.
We don’t forget the lies and assurances that were uttered to provide more omfort for the dissidents than the residents.
Those who were cognizant cried out in their sleep. Those who had experienced their own private hell in the '30s and early '40s had nightmares revisited upon them. You needn't believe what I say, it's been documented.
God bless those that fight for the indigent and starving children in far-flung areas of the world. However, a short visit to the Motion Picture Home campus in the company of those who are fighting for the future of motion picture and television long-term care would create a palaver that may bring heads together without concussion.
Simply speak out and live up to the promise that you made in print, George. See it from our perspective, not from the perspective of a millionaire's golf cart and a catered lunch in Bob Beitcher's conference room. Look into the eyes of the residents who were threatened with eviction. See them light up at having a star of your caliber in their company. Take them into your confidence and listen to the color of their fears. There is a darkness there that you may find familiar. Hold their hand and assure them that they won't have to leave if they need a skilled nursing or long-term care bed.
Some were afraid to divulge symptoms that they feared could force them out of MPTF care.
Today, those residents who are still with us lay in their beds with only the photos of their family and vacant memories of sound stages, truck cabs and make-up chairs. This is their only protection — their right to be where they paid for their care. That right is mightier than the chainmail and armor worn by the MPTF board and Motion Picture Home management. The fabric of the aegis that surrounds each board member is woven of ego.
Ego, so close to the word evil.
The ego that we try to pierce is stronger than Kevlar. They wear this armor and think that it makes them impervious. It doesn't. They can afford any type of care in the world. That is the great divide that we must breach, and we must breach it now before we lose another soul. Our war for long term care has become a war of attrition.
As those of us who suffer from the disease called "natural causes" drop off the radar, the need for immediate long term care for the remaining residents dilutes and scatters. The board must believe that with each deceased long-term care resident, our ranks weaken. They believe that the olive branch that they offer us will placate us. It drips in insincerity. And as they admonish us to wait and be patient, more residents die in flux — their final years muddled by the abandoned plans of millionaires, and what seems to be a back-burner attempt to find a solution.
What are we waiting for? When the population zeros out in the long-term care facility, will we see CEO Bob Beitcher hold his hands out and cry, "But I tried! I tried!"
And now they decry the state of reimbursement that all nursing homes and elder care facilities are fighting against in California. They feel that since we partner with them in our outrage against the State of California that we have stepped into the light from out our foxholes.
The news is how can you fight the healthcare system in California if you can't solve the problem of care in your own facility?
We have made a promise to the elderly of this industry, and we will not abandon that promise. With every day that the MPTF lags in fulfilling its promise, we grow stronger. With every resident that we lose, we gain an angel whose strength inspires ours.
And with every angel, an A-lister who stands on the shoulders of those who are being denied care can stand higher, this time on wings. Your fame is a result of their hard work. We haven't gone away.