CROSSROADS TO SOMEWHERE: Keiro’s Worrisome Status Is Clarified

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WIMPY1By W.T. WIMPY HIROTO

A long awaited explanation concerning the future of Keiro Senior HealthCare was made Wednesday, June 4, by CEO Shawn Miyake. He assured an anxious gathering of Keiro Retirement Home residents they need not be overly concerned as negotiations for the pending sale continue in earnest. Although not in a position to discuss pertinent details, he gave assurance there would be no immediate impact on tenants.

KRH’s resident council, beset by wild rumors, had asked for a face-to-face Q&A meeting as a means to quell rampant speculation. The public forum was held to separate fact from fiction. An official explanation months ago would have been welcomed, but obviously negotiations can’t be conducted publicly, so the silence provided fodder for scuttlebutt.

Miyake reiterated what has been known for the past several months: The search for a buyer, which began with more than twenty possibilities some three years ago, has been reduced to a single suitor; a major, for-profit health care giant that is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. For obvious reasons it remains unidentified until all conditions are agreed upon and escrow proceedings begin. This has been the official position since the unsettling news of a potential sale became public.

But for the first time, Miyake assured tenants that status will remain quo for the time being, “probably until the end of the year,” the first time a tentative end date has been revealed. He expects more months of negotiations before a firm agreement can be reached. “The facilities are being sold, not the company,” he made a point to add rather emphatically.

CR2S, a master of deduction, quickly figured Lincoln Park and South Bay nursing homes, Intermediate Care Facility (ICF) and Keiro Retirement Home (KRH), the four properties that make up the campus are for sale, not Keiro HealthCare, the umbrella entity.

Being your unofficial observer/commentator, CR2S understands the distinction. Sorta. If this clarification had been made months ago, it would have eased the concerns of KRH tenants. But more importantly, it would have waylaid the negative vibes that resonated throughout the greater Japanese community. On the other hand, understanding negotiations must be kept private, Miyake & Co. were in a Catch 44 situation (Shi-shi, twice as bad as 22.)

The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) may turn out to be a godsend to millions of uninsured but it is the primary reason Keiro HealthCare is being forced to make the unpopular move. [Democratic supporters of President O can take a bow or blame, whichever.] It’s a simple case of small independents unable to compete with industry behemoths, thus the dismal financial future of our nursing homes and ICF. Without getting enmeshed in medical financial gobbledygook, it’s a situation where an all-Japanese facility can no longer stand alone. [Hopefully this status report will discourage the misguided from advancing the preposterous concept of a rejuvenated Keiro in the South Bay.]

Simply put, a nursing home dinner menu will eventually feature chili peppers, horseradish, okra and kimchee alongside tsukemono. KRH, on the other hand, will only experience an inevitable rent increase somewhere down the road. It is not destined to include brown, blonde or red-haired neighbors anytime soon. The existing waiting list will continue to prevail no matter who collects the rent.

There was additional discussion regarding the future of Keiro’s vast army of volunteers, the function and influence of citizen boards, the status of current staff members; all questions Miyake could only answer with a straightforward “I don’t know.” [CR2S sympathizes with anyone whose every word has to be translated into Japanese, which plays havoc with cadence and message. And a cringe results when an inquiry is made regarding the replacement of a malfunctioning dryer or why the rent has go up.]

But, and isn’t there always one of those, the clear-the-air effort was not without controversy. Maybe uncertainty is a better word.

“What is going to happen to the money realized from the sale?” was the lingering 800-pound elephant in the room.

“A very good question,” Miyake acknowledged. He then proceeded on a three-minute explanation (that did not exactly clarify). This is when he repeated the assertion they will be “selling the facility, (but) not the company.” He added that Keiro would retain control of all its trusts and the seated boards would continue “to serve the community.”

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I’m still somewhat puzzled. Consider this scenario: You, my profit-making readers, buy me, CR2S, a (obvious) non-profit, for let’s say a cool 88 million bucks. And nothing changes. I continue my writing and you continue reading, same as before any money changed hands. But now you own me, a non-profit with no demanding stockholders to bother with. Does that mean the $88 mil you paid me still remains under your authority and control? Maybe this is why negotiations are at an impasse. Someone please straighten me out if I’m wrong.

W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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