Can Bob Pisano Resolve MPTF Nursing Home Controversy?
By ROBERT W. WELKOS
A change in leadership at the top of the Motion Picture and Television Fund was met with optimism Wednesday by people who have been protesting the fund’s decision to close its Long-Term Care unit and acute-care hospital in Woodland Hills.
Bob Pisano, currently the president and interim CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, has been elected chairman of the MPTF, succeeding Frank Mancuso, who served in that post since 2003 and will continue to serve on the board for the next two years as immediate past chair.
“We are very fortunate to have found an individual with the unique combination of experience, dedication, integrity and compassion to take on this responsibility,” Mancuso said in a written statement. “Bob Pisano understands what the organization means to the entertainment industry, and I cannot think of a more qualified person to lead MPTF forward.”
Pisano will be stepping into a thorny issue. The MPTF touched off a public relations nightmare when it announced in 2009 that it plans to close the Long-Term Care unit and hospital portion of its decades-old Woodland Hills complex.
Nancy Biederman, co-founder of Saving the Lives of Our Own, which is spearheading the fight to keep the facility open, issued a statement Wednesday in response to Pisano’s election:
“We look forward to working with Mr. Pisano for the good of the residents and the Motion Picture and Television Fund. We hope that he displays the leadership and vision that the Fund needs as well as an understanding of and appreciation for the historic mission of the MPTF.”
Melody Sherwood, whose elderly mother, Kay Meyer, has lived in the Long-Term Care unit for five years, told HollywoodNews: “We would certainly hope that the Motion Picture Home would now have an appreciation and understanding of its historic mission.” She said the Long-Term Care unit is now down to 55 residents.
“But it’s not just the nursing home,” she explained. “There are people living on the campus who expected to remain on the campus until their final days. The whole purpose of the Motion Picture Home is that once you move in and retire there, you are cared for there the rest of your life. If the nursing home is closed, what are all the other residents going to do who are reasonably healthy now? Are they going to be thrown out and left on their own? That would be a betrayal of what a retirement community is supposed to be.”
The fund’s leadership has pointed to soaring medical costs and the recessionary economy as reasons they need to close the facility. They estimate it would take $10 million a year to operate.
DreamWorks’ co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, who chairs the MPTF Foundation, issued a written statement noting that Pisano has been a friend and colleague of his for over 20 years:
“During that time I’ve admired his willingness to take on and resolve critical and complex issues involving all aspects of the industry. As MPTF continues to look at every aspect of its operations, governance, and mission, having Bob’s leadership in navigating the organization through these matters will be truly valuable. I share the excitement of our other board members in welcoming Bob to this new role.”