Keiro Board Asked to Prevent Pacifica from Shutting Down ICF

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Sakura Gardens campus in Boyle Heights, where ICF is located.

The following letter was sent to the board of Keiro on Jan. 24 in response to plans by Pacifica, owner of the former Keiro Intermediate Care Facility in Boyle Heights, to convert the ICF into market-rate housing.

Keiro sold its four facilities, three in Los Angeles and one in Gardena, in 2016 with the condition, imposed by the state attorney general, that Pacifica maintain culturally sensitive services for the residents for five years. That period comes to an end this month.

The letter reads as follows:

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We respectfully urge the Keiro Board to request that the California Attorney General’s Office amend or extend the Sale Conditions for the following reasons:

1. Prevent Pacifica from shutting down the Sakura Intermediate Care Facility for a reasonable period of time in light of the pandemic. The extension is critically needed until Pacifica is able to demonstrate that there are adequate alternative culturally sensitive and affordable facilities to which the residents of the ICF can be transferred without fear of COVID contagion. The ICF residents have no good alternatives if the facility is shut down at this time. Their need for care is greater than that offered by the Sakura Gardens Assisted Living and given the COVID situation, they are scared to death of the thought of moving into the Nursing Homes, which have become COVID-19 hotbeds.

Pacifica’s Intention to Convert the ICF to Market Rate Housing indicates its intent to shut down the ICF, move out its nearly 90 residents, and convert the building to market-rate housing. Although such an action would be forbidden by the Sale Conditions, Pacifica apparently believes that it will be free of any restrictions on its maintenance of the facilities after Feb. 5, 2021.

Pacifica’s efforts in this regard are opposed by the ICF residents, the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council, Little Tokyo Community Council, Congresswomen Judy Chu and Maxine Waters, State Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de Leon, Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis, Koreisha Senior Care & Advocacy, and many others.

2. Extension is requested for a two-year period or through the end of the State of Emergency for the Kei-Ai Nursing Homes, whichever is later. The two former Keiro Nursing Homes (Kei-Ai Los Angeles and Kei-Ai South Bay) show shockingly high percentages of COVID-positive residents and staff.

This is due in part to Pacifica’s decision to make Kei-Ai Los Angeles Nursing Home a designated COVID-19 facility for accepting asymptomatic but likely still contagious patients who are discharged from area hospitals. Such patients are supposed to be put into isolation units to protect other nursing home residents but the facilities are not set up to be able to contain the vast majority of patients who have tested positive for the virus.

Based on public records, Kei-Ai Los Angeles has 230 residents (out of fewer than 290 occupancy) and 169 staff who have tested positive, with 90 COVID-related deaths so far. Kei-Ai South Bay has 84 residents (out of 100 occupancy) and 65 staff who have tested positive, with 17 COVID-related deaths. **The Los Angeles Times** reports that Kei-Ai Los Angeles has the highest number of infections and deaths of residents of all skilled nursing and assisted living facilities in the State. https://www.latimes.com/projects/california-coronavirus-cases tracking-outbreak/nursing-homes/

3. Pacifica’s Non-Compliance with the Sale Conditions: As determined by the lack of certified annual reports, Pacifica has not been in full compliance with the Sale Conditions for most of the past five years. Based on evidence of various aspects of Pacifica’s non-compliance, the CAB (Community Advisory Board) has refused to certify the annual reports since 2018.

Keiro can play a crucial role in saving the residents: Because Keiro entered into the original agreement with Pacifica regarding the sale of the facilities and is a party to the imposition of the Sale Conditions, it may be deemed a necessary party to any decision by the AG’s Office to amend or extend them.

Some of the undersigned have requested that the AG’s Office extend the Sale Conditions, but we expect Pacifica to argue that only the buyer (Pacifica) or the seller (Keiro) has standing to request a modification of the Sale Conditions. All it would take to help save the residents is for Keiro to request that the AG’s Office amend or extend the Sale Conditions to prevent Pacifica from shutting down the ICF for a reasonable period of time in light of the pandemic.

Through this simple act that only Keiro can take, your board can save the ICF and help unify the Japanese American community around what we all agree is an imperative — rescuing nearly 90 desperate seniors who have nowhere else to go. Pacifica is days away from being freed to do what it wishes; the time for Keiro to act is now.

Amendment of the Sale Conditions Due to Unforeseen COVID Emergency: The California Code of Regulations that gave the AG’s Office the legal authority to impose the Sale Conditions in the first instance itself provides for amendment of the Sale Conditions where there has been “a change in circumstances that could not have reasonably been foreseen at the time of the Attorney General’s action.” CCR Sec. 999.5(h).

The current State of Emergency of the COVID-19 pandemic is clearly a change in circumstances, unforeseen in February 2016, that materially alters the impact of the Sale Conditions and that amply justifies amending those conditions.

We respectfully request the Sale Conditions be amended/extended for a minimum of a two-year period or through the end of the State of Emergency for the Kei-Ai Nursing Homes, whichever is later. We further request that the Sale Conditions be extended to prevent the closure of the ICF until Pacifica is able to demonstrate that there are adequate alternative culturally sensitive and affordable facilities to which the residents of the ICF can be transferred without fear of COVID contagion.

We ask for your utmost attention to this critical matter.

Respectfully yours,

John Kanai, President, Koreisha Senior Care & Advocacy

Keiko Ikeda, Ph.D., Vice President, Koreisha Senior Care & Advocacy

Daniel Mayeda, Attorney, Ballard Spahr Law Firm; Clinical Professor, UCLA School of Law

Supported by:

U.S. Rep. Judy Chu, 27th Congressional District

U.S. Rep. Jimmy Gomez, 34th Coongressional District

U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, 43rd Congressional District

State Assemblymember Miguel Santiago, 53rd District

State Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, 66th District

Former State Assemblymember Warren Furutani

Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis, 1st District

Los Angeles City Councilmember Kevin de Leon, 14th District

Community Organizations:

Junko Ashida, President, Nikkei Helpline

Cheyenne Cheng, National Japanese American Citizens League, Washington, D.C.

Lisa Doi, President, Chicago Chapter, JACL

Donald Hayashi, President, Dayton Chapter, JACL

Ronald Kuramoto, President, Wisconsin Chapter, JACL

Dylan Mori, Ph.D., President, Mile High Chapter, JACL

Ron Sakai, President, St. Louis Chapter, JACL

Kazuya Sato, President, Cincinnati Chapter, JACL

Vinicius Taguchi, President, Twin Cities Chapter, JACL

Kai Uno, President, Omaha Chapter, JACL

Ryan Yoshikawa, President, Southeast Los Angeles-North Orange County (SELANOCO) Chapter, JACL

Michael Enomoto, Managing Partner, Gruen Associates, Los Angeles

Gardena Pioneer Project, Gardena

Hisanori Iwashita, President, Southern California Gardeners’ Federation

Shinkichi Koyama, Advisor and Past President, Southern California Gardeners Federation

Seiji Horio, Past President, Southern California Gardeners’ Federation

Gene Kaida, President, Oita Kenjinkai

Rumi Kumada, President, Fukushima Kenjinkai

Shingi Kunyoshi, Ph.D., Former President, Okinawa Association of America

Lori Matoba, Deputy Director, Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California

Joe Miyamoto, President, Nanka Kochi Kenjinkai

Joe Mizuno, President, Los Angeles Ryoma Kai

Rev. Mark Nakagawa, West District Superintendent, The United Methodist Church

Kensaku Nakayama, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, CSU Long Beach

Tom Ota, President, Mie Kenjinkai

Yoshie Sato, President, Tochigi Kenjinkai

Tazuko Shibusawa, Ph.D., MSW, Associate Professor, Silver School of Social Work, New York University

Rita Takahashi, Ph.D, MSW, Professor, School of Social Work, San Francisco State University

Haruo Takehana, President, Japanese Community Pioneer Center, Los Angeles

Karen Umemoto, Ph.D., Chair, Asian American Studies Center, UCLA

Kyoko Watanabe, President, Japanese Welfare Rights Organization

Eileen Yoshimura, Task Force to Rebuild Nikkei Senior Facility

Physicians, Health Care Providers:

Barry Goy, M.D., President, Japanese American Medical Association

Randall Arase, M.D., General Surgery, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center

Kiyoko Hallenberg, MSW, LCSW

Keiko Ikeda, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist

Kenji Irie, M.D., Fellow and Life Member, American Academy of Family Physicians

Brian Itagaki, M.D., Gale Itagaki, Member, Japanese American Medical Association

Sumi Kawaratani, M.D., Family Medicine, Los Angeles

Weili Materna, LVN, International University of Health and Welfare, Tochigi, Japan

Takeshi Matsumoto, M.D., Internal Medicine Specialist

Christina Miyawaki, PhD, MSW, Assistant Professor, University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, Houston, Texas

Koki Morizono, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor, David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA

Rumiko Okada, PhD – California School of Professional Psychology, Los Angeles at Alliant International University (Retired; Associate Professor, Clinical PsyD Program)

Yasuko Sakamoto, MSW, LCSW

Gordon H. Sasaki, M.D. and Joanne Sasaki, Los Angeles

Ronald Shigematsu, M.D., Family Medicine, Los Angeles

Mark Shiroishi, M.D., M.S., FASFNR, Assistant Professor, USC Brain Tumor Center,

Keck School of Medicine of USC

Patrick Takahashi, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, White Memorial Medical Center

Alyssa Watanabe, M.D., Former President, Japanese American Medical Association

Residents, Families:

Eileen Asato Family

Miyuki Hashimoto

Yoshio and Nobuko Kozono

Sui Morimoto

Sachiko Morita Family

Mari Robinson Family

Cynthia Sakaki Sirlin, R.N., Family Council, Kei-Ai Los Angeles

Tracy Sakamoto Ozawa Family

Sayuri Shibata Family

Miki Strawberry

Sumiko Takase

Michael Toji, Family

Kotoko Toji

Masako Yasui Family

Eileen Yoshimura Family

(Partial list of supporters)

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