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Nurse blasts managers of Motion Picture Home

March 8, 2009 |  4:00 pm

The charity that operates the Woodland Hills facility known as the Motion Picture Home can't seem to quell the fallout from its decision to shut down the 50-year-old nursing home and hospital.

The latest evidence of that emerged Friday when a nurse at the home publicly took its administrators to task for their handling of the planned relocation of some 100 residents who are being forced to move out.

Representatives of the Motion Picture & Television Fund have said they could no longer afford to continue operating the nursing home and hospital, citing skyrocketing costs, and have vowed to help residents find comparable care at other facilities.

But, Lisa Johnson, a licensed vocational nurse at the home, openly challenged such claims in an open letter to the fund's employees. "A number of the residents and their families are feeling immense pressure to find new facilities," Johnson wrote. "They don't feel supported; they feel pressure."

As an example, Johnson cited an incident last month in which a resident allegedly yelled at a social worker to get out of her room. The social worker had entered her room, armed with various pamphlets on new facilities, to discuss her relocation, just after the resident had just learned that her husband -- also a resident at the home -- was dying, "The staff heard the resident screaming at the social worker to get out of her room, that her priority was her dying husband, not on the relocation process," Johnson wrote.

Some residents are refusing to leave, while others have complained that there is a shortage of available beds at quality nursing homes. Johnson echoed that concern in her letter: "I feel like I'm lying to them when I tell them whatever facility they will go to will live up to the high standards that we are used to here at the MPTF."

To be sure, Johnson has ample reason to be angry at her employer. She is among about 290 workers who will lose their jobs as a result of the closure later this year. The workers have complained that they've been kept in the dark about when they will be terminated. Fund officials said employees would be given 60 days' notice, and that that charity will provide severance pay and hold a job fair, but they have not specified when actual layoffs will occur.

Johnson's letter came in response to a memo that fund president, Dr. David Tillman, delivered to staff on Thursday which stated that the fund had so far helped 11 residents "successfully relocate to other facilities" and has assigned "transition teams" to assist more than 30 residents "who are actively looking."

"We are committed to maintaining a continued presence in the lives of the residents and participating in their care for the rest of their lives,'' the memo stated.

-- Richard Verrier

Hal Alexander, a retired stage manager and director, moved into the Motion Picture and Television Fund’s nursing home a few months ago. Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times