Protest planned for Thursday afternoon

Alarms have gone off in the town during the past week since the announcement of the upcoming closure of the Motion Picture and Television Fund’s acute-care hospital and long-term-care facility in Woodland Hills.

Supporters of the 100 patients being transferred and the 290 MPTF staffers being laid off will hold a rally Thursday afternoon at the MPTF campus to oppose the moves, contending that the fund’s not fulfilling its obligation to patients.

The reaction’s forced MPTF leaders to scramble to defuse the frustration, pointing to growing financial pressures that have forced it to change its operating strategy, along with providing assurances that most of the other MPTP operations will remain open. They’ve emphasized that the fund plans to modernize its facilities and expand efforts to bring medical and social services to industry retirees — and will continue to operate its independent- and assisted-care facilities in Woodland Hills along with its six health centers in the Los Angeles area.

“We’ve spent more than three years assessing and allocating the resources of the MPTF, trying to do the greatest good for the greatest number of people and provide them with a sustainable future,” said Jeffrey Katzenberg, chairman of the MPTF Foundation Board. “And that’s involved very difficult decisions.”

David Tillman, MPTF president and CEO, admits that those explanations — along with assurances that the relocations won’t start for another 60 days — haven’t mollified all of those directly impacted.

“It’s a very difficult message,” Tillman admitted.

Jill Schary Robinson, whose husband has been in the home since last year, contends that the MPTF needs to rethink its plans because of the impact on patients who had not been expecting to move elsewhere.

“I think it’s an outrage, and it’s been excruciating because the patients are rattled,” notes Robinson, daughter of writer-producer Dore Schary and mother of UTA partner Jeremy Zimmer.

Daniel Quinn, whose mother resides at the home, asserts that most of the relatives are “incensed” over the plans and will continue to oppose them.

The MPTF noted that it runs the risk of burning through its current reserves of $110 million in less than five years if it keeps the long-term-care facility and the acute-care hospital open — even with fund-raising generating what’s expected to be $20 million in donations this year.

“It’s a depressing situation, but the worst thing would have been if no one had cared about the MPTF,” notes Ken Scherer, CEO of the foundation. “I’m actually encouraged that people care a lot about it.”

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