CROSSROADS TO SOMEWHERE: Why No Wails of Protest on Behalf of Keiro?



In case you’ve been in hibernation or incarcerated, a review of Keiro Senior HealthCare’s hectic past several months:

After a thorough and lengthy search, something called the Ensign Group was deemed the ideal choice to take control of our proud and iconic community jewel. Amidst popping balloons and poured champagne, the State Attorney General recorked the bubbly when it unceremoniously put the kibosh on the agreement. Red faces replaced congratulatory backslaps when the AG’s approval didn’t come to pass; a required necessity to prevent voracious for-profits from devouring non-profits unimpeded.

The search for an acceptable buyer was revived. Despite a logical return to the also-ran list to Ensign’s ill-fated bid, newcomer Pacific Companies LLC on June 2 was named the new buyer. Escrow proceeds with the final reckoning again in the hands of Kamala Harris’ office. Let’s assume this mulligan is approved.

Pacifica is a multi-billion$ family-owned investment/developer. Established in 1978 and headquartered in San Diego, it owns 51 senior residential facilities in fourteen states, twenty of which are in California. Pending approval, Pacifica has announced plans to lease out all Keiro operations. This means Lincoln Park and South Bay nursing homes, Intermediate Care Facility and retirement home on Boyle Avenue, will be spun off to (a) North Star Residential Care Facility for Elderly of Redding, Calif., and (b) Aspen Skilled Healthcare Inc. of Laguna Niguel.

Let’s dispense with the dry fodder regarding sale and lease details. Who cares, other than lawyers, accountants and shareholders? The convoluted hand-offs are nothing but corporate maneuvers to spread the wealth and lessen responsibility. An investment Tinker to Evers to Chance double-play combination aimed to solidify profits and please the AG.

Escrow is scheduled to close end of July, with extensions if needed until November. Financial arrangements are set but confidentiality restrictions forbid being made public (which means I know but can’t tell). More importantly, deadline for public commentary is Friday, two days away! Which is the reason I feel obliged to voice displeasure, albeit much too late.

We are on the verge of losing our greatest achievement and not a word of sorrow. The iconic flagship of our community is going under and not a lifesaver in sight.

“The Community,” if there is such a creature, was stunned when the sale of Keiro to Ensign Group was announced last year. The finality of the erstwhile transaction hadn’t set in when just as suddenly the deal was undone. By then resignation reigned, no one was moved to do battle, to save, to salvage.

I ask, again: Why was there no public discussion of Keiro’s threatened status? The problems. Possible solutions openly discussed. Its chances of survival in the face of Obamacare ramifications? Why were no questions posed? Transparency demanded?

Keiro without question is the greatest Issei/Nisei success story in our century-old history. It’s on the verge of going kaput without so much as a murmur of dissent. What ever happened to our famous giri and all that jazz? Why was there nary a ripple of protest or public discussion concerning the status and future of Keiro? Before Ensign?

Granted, the three Keiro boards of directors and advisory council engaged in serious discussions, committed to meet, contest and confront the challenge. I believe it’s called due diligence; maybe it should’ve been a warning to be diligent. But the public was never warned and thus caught unaware when the storm clouds burst. It is a given that non-profits face monumental hurdles in order to survive. Toss in ethnicity and the slippery slope is Sisyphean.

But damn it, there was never an outreach, a last-minute can’t-something-be-done effort posed. A pre-war farm property is threatened and a victorious public outcry results; JACCC teeters on the verge of bankruptcy and the community comes to its rescue; the proposed auction of internment camp relics results in the formation of a united, successful opposition. When the future of The Rafu Shimpo was in doubt, support groups sprouted before you could say “30.”

Yet the demise of the greatest of Japanese American entities is set to disappear and silence is heard loud and clear! [Warning: If someone suggests a Jappo shrug and shikata-ga-nai commentary, I will wind up in prison!]

I don’t pretend to be Don Quixote doing battle with windmills. No, just a guy as guilty and ashamed as all other culprits: Erstwhile community leaders, the medicos, clergy, chamber of commerce, businessmen, professional bleeding hearts. Not forgetting the quibblers whose only concern is where the money goes!

I’m happy lower management and dedicated staff people will be retained and rent will remain unchanged. But not celebratory because the vow is merely good for a year. CEO/President Shawn Miyake and a select handpicked crew operate Keiro Senior HealthCare out of tenth floor offices at 420 E. Fourth St. in Li’l Tokio; the skeleton of a once robust, admired and proud institution. Shame on us all!

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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