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Motion Picture & TV Fund fined over serious injury to nursing home resident

State regulators have fined the embattled Motion Picture & Television Fund $7,500 for failing to prevent a serious head injury sustained by an 87-year-old resident of the charity’s nursing home.

The California Department of Public Health issued a severe citation to the fund, saying the motion picture nursing home failed to follow a comprehensive plan of care for a patient who was injured while she was being transferred between her bed and wheelchair.

The incident, which occurred last May, is likely to fuel questions about the level of care that existed in the turbulent months following the fund's controversial decision in January 2009 to shut down the nursing home and hospital, which has been a fixture in Hollywood for decades.

The fund's board said it could no longer afford to continue operating the facilities and that losses were jeopardizing other services it provides to entertainment industry workers. But the fund was forced to postpone plans to shutter the long-term care facility after most of the residents refused to leave and mounted a campaign to keep it afloat. Though dozens of nursing and hospital staff were laid off last year, no date has been set for the closure.

Nursing home administrators recently posted the details of the citation inside the motion picture home, which has about 54 remaining long-term care residents.

"The citation raises concern among families that there was an atmosphere of indifference toward meeting the needs of patients and a lack of accountability,'' said Nancy Biederman, co-founder of Saving the Lives of Our Own, a coalition that has been fighting to keep the motion picture home open. "We hope any further reduction in staff will not compromise the needs of residents."

Fund spokesman Steve Honig said the incident happened "because an employee did not follow the proper procedure. Since then, the employee has been appropriately counseled and the resident involved in the
situation is doing just fine."

Honig said it was "categorically untrue" that there had been any reduced commitment in the quality of care following the closure announcement.

"The Motion Picture and Television facility has been one of the top healthcare facilities in the state of California," he said. "There was absolutely no change in the level care that the residents received after the announcement was made."

The accident happened May 28, when a certified nursing assistant was moving the resident, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and identified as someone who was "dependent on staff for transfers and was at risk for falls." The resident was being moved onto her bed from a wheelchair, using a mechanical lift.

During the move, the resident slid out of the sling on the lift and fell onto the floor, cutting her forehead so badly that the cranium was visible. She required stitches to heal a wound that was 15 centimeters wide. In its report, the Department of Public Health noted that the nursing assistant did not follow the fund's protocol of requiring two or more staff to assist during such lift transfers, and continued the practice of moving the patient by himself even after her fall.

Although nursing homes often receive deficiency notices for failing to comply with state standards, quality nursing homes rarely receive citations like the one the state levied against the fund, said Michael Connors, a spokesman for California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, a nonprofit patient advocacy group.

In fact, state records dating back to 2004 do not show any other so-called Class A citations, those that involve serious injury or imminent danger of death, for the motion picture home.

"A citation like this is pretty rare,'' Connors said, who called the citation "alarming" and a "strong indication that the home is understaffed."

Honig objected to such a suggestion: "The incident that occurred had nothing to do with staffing issues," he said. "It had to do with an employee who did not follow proper procedures."

-- Richard Verrier

Comments () | Archives (15)

This incident doesn't scratch the surface of the horror that has gone on at the Nursing Home since the Fund leadership announced they were going to evict the most fragile and needy residents from the Fund's 40 acre Campus. The Motion Picture Fund's leadership can deny, deny, deny, but in court, each and every one of them will have a very very real problem; they won't be able to hide behind their alleged power nor their financial fortunes. They can refresh themselves with the Richard Nixon story to see how it works.

So this is what the fabled Motion Picture Home has become? A serious accident that occurred almost a year ago, just now seeing the light of day - apparently swept under the carpet by senior staff who are rubbing their hands in glee over the departure of these 'parents of trouble makers'?

Is this what happens when studio heads and movie people who have absolutely zero experience in dealing with these issues feel up to the task to run a once world-class healthcare facility? Is this what happens when exorbitant salaries are paid to MPTF executives with promises of star-studded parties and rubbing elbows with celebrities on the golf course?

Oh, what's the fuss? They can just add another place setting at his 7,500.00 yearly fundraiser to make up for the fine. "if the employee hadn't been distracted by those noisy people trying to take care of their own this wouldn't have happened."

I would hope that new Motion Picture leadership will foster a positive change and more stability in the organization. Developing a no-blame culture and removing fear and intimidation could help Steve Honig too - he wouldn't have to blame the employee for the incident.

Seems like Saving the Lives is doing exactly that. At what point do we rise up and demand that the attention to care be equal to the attention to profits? Had this not been published, God only knows what other 'proper procedures' have not been followed, even after an accident that could indeed have proved fatal.

Steve Honig - apologist for what he hoped would be an indiscretion that has now come to light. The fish stinks from the head Mr. Honig.

The incident reported may have happened a year ago, but I can attest to the fact that the same problem exists today. Staff layoffs have led to a severely diminished ability to properly care for the remaining residents. The MPTF may claim that the staff has been 're-educated' and now comply with the rules. However, as recently as 5 days ago, I witnessed the lift transfer of a resident by one person. The danger of that patient falling out of the lift was readily apparent. The resident was semi-alert and absolutely incapable of helping with the transfer. I was horrified by what I witnessed. I have the time, date and name of the staff member who struggled alone to manage the resident. And, furthermore, I doubt the staffer needed to be re-educated since that person is a senior staffer and long-time caregiver at the Home.

"Actions speak louder than words" and the MPTF's actions are deafening.

Richard Verrier continues to be one of the only major newspaper reporters to continue a fair coverage of the Motion Picture Home closure. There has been two sides to this story for over 18 months now, and most print media outlets have ignored the patients and their families along with anything they might have to say. Because LA is a "company town" editors and their owners make the decision not to question the powerful Motion Picture and Televison Fund Board members and to print their words without questions or research.

Thank you, Mr. Verrier, for covering Motion Picture Fund's violation in the care of this resident. We must not allow the Board's political agenda for the Home to bring about any injuries or any lower quality of care. 18 months ago the 90 year old Motion Picture Home was the "gold standard" in caring for the aging needs of their industry - today we see what can happen when taking care of our aging members is no longer a priority. There are patients in the Long Term Unit at the Motion Picture Telvision Fund Home - they deserve the best care and the best trained caregivers that follow each individual's care plan. That's the way it has always been and that's the way it needs to continue.

According to Michael Connors, a spokesman for California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, the kind of fine issued against the MPTF in the matter of the mechanical lift accident is very rare and vivid evidence of the MPTF's callous failures to adequately staff the long term care unit (now being referred to as the "skilled nursing facility"). There will be more fines because after more than 16 months government agencies and the legal profession now have MPTF leadership and management squarely in their sights. Reading Steve Honig's scattershot denials and blame shifting one can only be reminded of the little dutch boy who put his fingers in the dike trying to stop the leaks. For those who haven't watched him in action, Steve Honig is a little weasel of a man who gets paid big bucks to deny and spin the lies and bad behavior of MPTF leadership and management. And spin he does. If he doesn't have ulcers yet, they are coming. At events Sweaty Steve runs around with his little press releases trying to convince the media that all the MPTF's self-inflicted wounds are really someone else's fault. He always looks a guy standing on ground that's slipping away under his feet. Walk carefully, Steve...just like the fines that are exposing the MPTF...that slipping feeling under your feet is real.

Mr. Honig and those who are trying to save the nursing home agree that the Motion Picture & Television facility has been one of the top health care facilities in the state. The citation is symbolic of the black cloud that descended over our nursing home when the management started to run it to close it down. Management seemed more concerned with reporting a decrease in the population to the board than it was about upholding the standards that had once made it the gold-standard. Did Mr. Honig see and feel it day in and day out? Did Ms. Biederman? Thank you for bringing this to light.

This is a horrible injury, I feel sorry for the CNA as he/she probably didn't mean for anything like this happen and feels guilty. They should have been more careful though and knowing how frail the patient is maybe got someone else to help them.

This citation is only the tip of the iceberg that will uncover the malfeasance, inept executives, bullying social workers, and general breakdown of the MPTF. We are told that the Anti-Defamation League has the MPTF on their radar for the denial of Passover privileges to the resident nursing home people, along with other agencies looking into, or maybe investigating is a better word, the stringent and abusive security precautions.

It's a shame that as the MPTF spirals down the drain, they are now shown to be doing physical harm to those in their charge. Who gets laid off next Mr. Katzenberg? Who will you injure next Mr. Spielberg?

What a fraud - those who make movies sympathetic to the cause of Jews and other minorities, who in their own facilities not only deny them their right to worship, and merely 'counsel' those who injure them.

As a family member of a current resident, I can also attest to the declined care at the skilled nursing facility. It's absurd for them to position this improper use of a lift as an isolated instance. My family member also requires a lift to get from her bed to wheelchair and I know for a fact it's been done by ONE person on numerous occasions. There are only 2 nurses for her entire floor so I don't see how that is 'properly staffed'. For those who doubt the claims of the current situation, I'd suggest they go to the facility to see for themselves. However, MPTF has heightened their security to such a level that I'm unsure they'd get in. The fact they've put such a strong effort in raising their security over the last year only suggests one thing..... they have something to hide.

I am thankful that more attention is being paid to what is happening at MPTF and hope that under new leadership, we can find a way to keep the facility open not just for the current residents, but for generations to come. After all, they are supposed to be "Taking Care of Our Own".

My family member at the MPTF home has been left without supervision for extended periods of time during the last fifteen months. There have been two incidents where I have been notified about my loved one falling, this because the MPTF has cut back the floor staff. The MPTF top administrative staff does not care about any of the residents well being, and the floor staff is distracted by depression and the fear of when they will be terminated. In the four years my loved one has lived at the home, I have never received ONE phone call regarding a fall.

What does that tell you????

Responsible journalism in a company town, Mr. Verrier. Variety covered the citation yesterday as if it were a press release from MPTF.

There are about 83 residents in skilled nursing facility (SNF) beds at the MPTF. About 53 of those are occupied by long term care residents, 30 are in Harry's Haven Alzheimer's unit.

We asked Ms. Biederman about the the families concern of indifference and she explained it as the reduction in commitment due to changes made by the former CEO, the current COO and their consultants .

No anomaly, there has been a reduction in commitment to all of these folks.


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