In a stunning reversal, the Motion Picture and Television Fund (MPTF) announced Wednesday that it has entered into a non-binding letter of intent with Providence Health & Services that will keep its longterm care facility and acute care hospital open.
The announcement represents a triumph for the grassroots movement Saving the Lives of Our Own that sprung up after the MPTF's leadership announced it would shutter the money-losing operation in January 2009.
TheWrap has covered the issue in depth from the start of the closure announcement, winning awards for its investigative articles on mismanagement at the home.
Read previous coverage: Part I: MPTF residents despondent; six have died since closure
Under the terms of the proposed agreement, Providence would sign a long-term lease for the MPTF hospital facilities.
State licenses for the 250-bed hospital would be transferred to nearby Providence Tarzana Medical Center. The plan is subject to regulatory approval.
“Over the last year, I have been working closely with my fellow board members and management to find a positive resolution to our long-term care and acute care issue. With this letter of intent, the framework is now in place to accomplish that. The new affiliation with Providence Health & Services will create a vibrant medical campus with services never before available to our industry members,” said Bob Beitcher, chief executive officer of MPTF.
The UCLA Health System will also participate in overhauling the center's program. UCLA Health System will also help create a new neurological rehabilitation unit at the MPTF.
The MPTF also announced that it will expand healthcare services on the Wasserman Campus in Woodland Hills.
The fight to keep the center open erupted almost immediately after the MPTF's controversial decision to shutter the Hollywood home. At the time, officials said that the Woodland Hills facility, which housed 138 patients, was losing money at a rate of roughly $10 million a year.
Since that time residents and their families have fought the MPTF leadership to a standstill. As a result, the home — which was supposed to have closed within six months of the announcement — has remained open, albeit with fewer than 40 patients still there.
Residents and their families expressed cautious optimism about the plan following its unveiling on Wednesday morning.
“I am encouraged to know that the MPTF is actively seeking solutions to the long term care crisis that we’ve been involved in for the last two years and I hope, for all of our sakes, that the solution that they are proposing is one that the community can embrace and feel happy about,” Dean Butler, co-founder of Saving the Lives of Our Own, told TheWrap.
In addition to having to deflect a campaign from Saving the Lives of Our Own, the MPTF has also been forced to confront mounting pressure from retirees living in other parts of the campus. With the facility accepting no new patients, when residents living in other parts of the MPTF campus grew ill, they were often forced to find longterm care elsewhere.
Campus residents and their families have been called to a public meeting Wednesday night to discuss the proposal.
One casualty of the protracted standoff was former MPTF CEO Dr. David Tillman. An architect of the closure, Tillman was forced out in February 2010 after the conflict became a public relations disaster. Beitcher, who has been less confrontational with the grassroots organization, stepped in following Tillman's departure.
MPTF officials were said to be meeting with staff on Wednesday morning to alert them about future plans. On Tuesday afternoon, residents and their families began receiving phone calls and pamphlets inviting them to the meeting.
"We're committed to our goals of keeping the Long Term Care Facility open, to insuring long term care for the future, and to keeping MPTF to its historic mission – to take care of our own," Nancy Biederman, co-founder of Saving the Lives of Our Own told TheWrap. "Today's announcement is a step forward in accomplishing those goals and we're delighted."
The announcement comes days before board member Jeffrey Katzenberg is scheduled to host the MPTF's 9th Annual "Night Before" Pre-Oscar Fundraiser on Saturday.