March '10

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Me, Bronwen” Bronnie” Barry with my Dad Ivor Barry at MPTF’s Goldwyn Lodge, Christmas Day, 2004.


The Motion Picture and Television Fund Retirement Home is a place where those with at least 20 years employment in the Motion Picture/Television Industry can find residence and care once they reach the age of 70.  While about half or slightly more of those who live there are self-funded (meaning they pay their monthly residential bill themselves with their own assets, which include social security, and pension incomes), the remaining residents, whose assets have depleted over time then automatically sign over their pension and SSI income to the Fund, which in turn makes up any shortfall through the MPTF Fund Charity for the rest of the resident’s life. That is, UNTIL 2009..…

As some of you may know, my Dad (actor Ivor Barry) spent his last two years there.

It is an extraordinary place- one which has aided and supported the elderly and infirm in our industry since 1921.Throughout the years, it has also saved many from destitution as their assets have depleted. Fortunately my Dad (who passed suddenly of a heart attack in late 2006) was never in that precarious a position, but he did have the peace of mind knowing that should he need Long Term Care, he'd be in the best hands to the very end.

In January 2009, it was announced that this vitally important Long Term Care Facility is scheduled to close, and many of us within the entertainment community, and many more outside it, question this rather sudden and decisive action on the part of the MPTF Board.
To put it bluntly, for many who have looked deeply into this, it doesn't pass the smell test. The first suspicions are detailed below in this article from The Wrap—published in Feb 2009--

http://www.thewrap.com/article/1316

In the year since then even more has come to light thanks to the relentless dedication of the members of Saving the Lives of Our Own

www.savingthelivesofourown.org


and others who will not let this matter rest.  Though it is not admitting new patients, the MPTF Long Term Care Facility/ Hospital remains open-- four months after it was scheduled to lock it’s doors!!
In addition, the CEO of the Fund, Dr David Tillman resigned amid the controversy of how this all went down.
This is PROOF that solidarity and commitment can move mountains.
Saving the Lives of Our Own is a grass-roots coalition of thousands of entertainment industry workers and community members dedicated to keeping the MPTF Nursing Home open, to stopping the eviction of its elderly residents, and insuring that the MPTF promise of "Taking Care of Our Own" remains unbroken - now and for future generations.

I would paraphrase, but in this context I feel it’s essential to show how the MPTF, despite’s it agenda to close the Long Term Care Facility still chooses to present itself and it’s mission.

Here’s a quote cut directly from the MPTF Website regarding its origins:

“Celebrating 87 Years of Caring for the Entertainment Community

A heartfelt inspiration of entertainment industry visionaries, the Motion Picture & Television Fund began with a simple coin box in Hollywood where industry workers would deposit spare change for their fellow colleagues. Right from the start, our mission has been "We Take Care of Our Own."
The Motion Picture & Television Fund was created by such industry luminaries as Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith, who realized the need for reaching out to those in the entertainment industry who fell upon hard times. In 1921, the Motion Picture Relief Fund (MPRF) was incorporated with Joseph M. Schenck as first president, Mary Pickford as vice president and the Reverend Neal Dodd (who portrayed ministers in more than 300 films) as administrator, each with a benevolent spirit intent on providing assistance to those in the motion picture industry who were in need.
The Motion Picture & Television Fund mission remains the same: to protect and preserve the health and quality of life of those who devote so much of their lives to a career in the entertainment industry. And so we turn to members and friends of the industry to help fulfill this mission by Taking Care of Our Own. Great vision is powerless without passion. Donations, large and small, are vital to MPTF's ability to provide services to industry members today, and make dreams of tomorrow a reality…”


 To which I (dis) respectfully say… Bollocks..!!

None of said donations are going to support the Long Term Care Facility—because, despite the year-long delay, the current plan is STILL to close it!!
Personally I will still donate for those in assisted living who do need funding—I have quite a few friends still there whom I met when my Dad lived at Goldwyn Lodge..... And they still need our help.
At present the Motion Picture and Television Fund Retirement Community is comprised of several on campus facilities.

  • Independent Living (The Cottages) This is where able residents 70 years or older can live apartment style yet have meals and housekeeping available. Some assisted living is available here, as well. Many still drive their own cars and stay busy doing volunteer work around the campus.
  • Assisted Living (Frances Goldwyn Lodge and the Stark Villa)—This is where residents, many on walkers and wheelchairs, who may need a bit more care in general, are aided with everyday activities, medication etc.. Stark Villa also provides some Independent Living Units.
  • Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care- (Harry’s Haven)
  • Long Term Care (at the MPTF Hospital) This is, essentially, “end of life” care. .It is where one goes once determined not critically ill enough for acute care, yet simply too frail and fragile for assisted living. It is also where ongoing palliative treatment is administered.


Here is a list of some famous residents of the past. Asterisks denote those who spent their last days at the MPTF facility.

There are some animation folk in residence there at this time:

Ashley (Shirl) Lupin, "Fritz the Cat", "Little Mermaid"

Chris Jenkyns, "Bullwinkle" , "Rugrats"

John Sparey, "Crusader Rabbit, "Swan Princess"

Everyone in the Film and TV industry should care, particularly if they’re not independently wealthy. Right now, in 2010, Long Term Care can cost upwards of 10 K per month which can wipe out most personal assets within a year. . At Motion Picture, once this is the case, and after the patients’ SSI and Pension (if there is one,) kick in, then Medi-Cal kicks in, then the Fund assumes any shortfall. What the Fund has been claiming, and the reason they SAY they need to close this part of the campus, is that the level of Medi-Cal reimbursement has not been sufficient.

However, in order to qualify for max Medi-Cal reimbursement, and where there is an LTC hospital on the grounds, all beds must be filled to reasonable capacity. Interestingly, it seems that they have deliberately not been filling the beds, for which there IS demand…In turn, reimbursements go down—and there’s the shortfall, which they claim qualifies the closure.
So, why would they want to close it of indeed they COULD fully fund the place??
There are many opinions about this.

Check out the videos on the www.savingthelivesofourown.org website. You’ll see Chairman Seth Ellis telling us in his own words that
“We want this campus to be a place for elders to live their best lives; not a place that looks at sickness but looks at the key ingredients of successful aging." Perhaps because they’d rather not bother with old, destitute, sick people. . Maybe they’d rather replace it with another assisted / independent living residence attracting younger, healthier retirees with fuller bank accounts that they might not have to kick in for at all.

What can any one individual do about it?

Join www.savinghtelivesorourown.org..  for all the latest news and back-story. They also have a group on Facebook.

Make your voice heard by attending the rallies if you can, signing the petition
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/keeptheMPTFhomeopen
 
And, if possible, by making donations to offset the out of pocket expenses incurred by the Saving the Lives of Our Own  coalition. . There’s a PayPal link on their website.

Saving the Lives of Our Own

818 - 660-8899 -Telephone:
818 - 230-7993- FAX:

E-mail: 
communications@savingthelivesofourown.org

E-mail: richard@richardstellar.com
Telephone: 213 - 369-1097



Every year, the MPTF hosts a ‘Night Before The Oscars’ Fundraising event at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Last year we held a rally across the street at Will Rogers Park, had a great turnout and great media coverage. And we’re hoping for the same and more this time around on March 6th. Currently, the momentum is good, but we must not rest.
The MPTF Board, who still insist, as did Dr. Tillman ‘that no amount of money can fix this’ needs to be reminded publicly once again that this fight is far from over. They’ve been made to look bad whenever we’ve gathered en masse and they hate it.

The MPTF has an agenda to re-situate them in other facilities, promising that they’ll be taken care of in the manner to which they have become accustomed.  Fact is, many of these places are sub standard. . Richard Stellar’s mother lives at MPTF LTC and was promised a room at a “lovely place” which Richard decided to check out for himself on the down low. What he found was nothing short of depressing; four sad old souls to a room lit by only the flicker of the TV, the air permeated by the stench of urine. In short, unless they’ve got big bucks, chances are they’ll be warehoused in a similar fashion. Nice, huh?

The money for the LTC CAN be raised. But MPTF never even ASKED for extra charity funding to support the shortfalls!! Unfortunately politics may come into play here. A-listers have either been convinced by their powerful buddies on the board that money won’t help, or they’re scared of making waves. Many on the MPTF Board are powerful players—producers, etc., and it is my belief that any highly visible individual or group who is asked and does not step up for something like this is scared of political or professional repercussions.

Board member Jeffrey Katzenbergs’s response to the impassioned backlash against the planned eviction of MPTF nursing home residents - "We give ourselves a failing grade. This has not been communicated well."

Oh please.

 I’ve been told we have to pick our battles; some choose to go the ‘safe’ route, which I find very sad. Nothing this important has ever really been won without a fight or at least some risk. To me it’s a matter of what’s right. This is not only about saving the old folks now—it’s about preserving a very special level of support and care for people in this industry for generations to come.







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