MPTF teams with UCLA for geriatric unit

Deal will address patient needs at Woodland Hills campus

The Motion Picture and Television Fund is launching a geriatric psychiatric unit on its Woodland Hills campus in a partnership with UCLA Health System and its Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital.

The MPTF-UCLA unit, announced Tuesday, will provide inpatient and outpatient services to persons 55 years and older with emotional or behavioral disorders. The unit will accommodate up to 12 patients and is expected to be fully operational by early 2013.

The announcement of the new unit comes three weeks after the MPTF disclosed that it would begin admitting new patients for the first time in three years, going from 29 patients to as many as 40.

“This historic linkage with the UCLA Health System is another key piece in the larger strategy we have developed for our organization,” said Bob Beitcher, CEO of MPTF. “Among our many goals, we are focused on building a health care campus capable of delivering a broad set of services to our industry members and, selectively, to the San Fernando Valley community.”

The two moves represent a turnaround for the MPTF from three years ago, when it announced rising costs would force it to shutter its long-term care unit, which had 136 patients at the time, and its acute-care hospital. The MPTF has faced a barrage of criticism for the past three years over that decision, with some questioning the Fund’s commitment to its stated goal of “taking care of our own.”

Although the fund declared in January 2009 that it would shutter the two facilities in Woodland Hills by the end of that year, it later backed off, asserting that it became more difficult than anticipated to find acceptable beds outside the facility.

Beitcher told Variety on Tuesday that the UCLA partnership will address existing patient needs. He noted that there are only 59 beds for geriatric psychiatric treatment within 25 miles from a population of half a million people over 55. “This is a very under-served group,” he said.

The medical director of the new MPTF-UCLA unit will hold a faculty position at the UCLA School of Medicine and participate in the academic and research activities of the university as well. The MPTF will make the new service available on a preferential basis to entertainment industry members as well as to the community. The long-term care and dementia care units will continue to be exclusive to entertainment industry members.

Beitcher said he’s hopeful that the MPTF will be able to announce soon that it’s reached an agreement with a health care services provider. The MPTF had announced plans a year ago to turn over operations to Providence Health & Services California. That pact wasn’t finalized, but those discussions helped lead to the partnership with UCLA for the geriatric psychiatric unit.

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