Public Health dept. approves MPTF plan

Plan to to correct deficiencies at hospital, nursing home

The California Dept. of Public Health has approved plans by the Motion Picture and Television Fund to correct deficiencies at its Woodland Hills hospital and skilled nursing home.

In a report issued in June, the department found that the MPTF, which announced the closure of one of its hospitals and nursing facility in January 2009, did not give residents a legally required 30-day notice of transfer. In response, the MPTF issued an outline of corrective action, including its plan to train staff and management on “the provision of appropriate notices, orientation for transfer/discharge and documentation.”

The report has become part of an ongoing dispute between the MPTF and resident advocacy groups over the closure of the skilled nursing home. The Long Term Family Council, a group composed of residents at the MPTF’s long-term care unit and their families, said the 30-plus residents who moved did not receive proper notification of their rights, including the right to appeal the fund’s relocation decisions.

The facility, which has stalled closure efforts in light of the protests, still has about 50 residents.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which commissioned the state report, approved the MPTF’s plan earlier this month. Spokesman Jack Cheevers said the agencies are “trying to make sure that the facility comes into compliance with Medicare rules regarding the health and safety of medicare patients.” The Centers’ ratings system lists the violations as minor, causing little or no harm to patients.

Health Dept.’s acceptance of plans to rectify the fund’s deficiencies, however, did not satisfy the council. “We would like (the residents who moved) to have the option to return,” said Dean Butler, a council spokesman.

Butler declined to comment on how many residents wished to return.

SAG president Ken Howard issued a statement Thursday in response to the report, the investigation for which was concluded on May 28, calling the findings “troubling on many levels.”

Bob Beitcher, prexy-CEO of the MPTF, said the fund is also disputing the report’s assertion that the residents moved involuntarily. “It comes down to a different interpretation of the statute,” said Beitcher, adding that he is not optimistic the state will reverse its ruling. Beitcher replaced David Tillman in February after Tillman drew heavy criticism over his handling of the closure.

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