Interest in the proposed sale of Keiro Senior HealthCare to Pacifica Companies has gone from benign to bonkers! The unexpected reaction to last week’s column (“Why No Wails of Protest,” 06/24/15), which questioned the transaction process, has been as one-sided as it was surprising. Response has been unanimously negative, with complainers registering regret and displeasure. The volume and vehemence was overwhelming, to put it mildly.
But rather than a sense of accomplishment in arousing the dormant, I can’t help but wonder, “Where have all you people been?” And most probably not the only one. I’ll bet Keiro Senior HealthCare leaders are bewildered as well.
The question “What if” now becomes significant: What if the community had been informed earlier about the challenges Keiro faced? What if an open forum had been conducted before the search for a buyer began? What if an ad hoc committee was formed? What if the Attorney General’s Office had been deluged with this display of dissent? If all the ifs were openly discussed — and refuted — at least the community would know every possibility had been explored.
Acknowledging the difficulties CEO Shawn Miyake and his board of directors faced, it is apparent the public’s discontent comes from a lack of transparency while important decisions were confronted. While aware negotiations are never conducted in public, the main objection seems to be it was “a done deal” without public input.
In fairness, there were lines of communication between administration and patient families and retirement home residents; anyone directly impacted by a sale. But they were mostly progress reports after the fact; vague assurances without much substance. “There was never an opportunity to openly discuss or form a ‘Let’s Save Keiro’ movement” has been the general consensus.
Again, let’s be fair and walk in the shoes of Miyake and company. Seldom does an organization openly declare a state of emergency. Not Lehman Brothers, Bubble Up or Merit Savings; not until absolutely necessary and not even then sometimes. Let’s not forget the purpose of a non-profit board is to represent the public; there is no need to call for a task force every time a critical decision must be made.
Still another question persists: How bad is/was bad? If Keiro Senior HealthCare has such a dim and foreboding future, what prompted Ensign Group’s interest to buy? I’m not Mitt Romney, but I’m pretty sure the purpose of take-overs is to make money, not to be financial angels or compassionate saviors. Another: Why did Pacifica Companies, a non-participant in the original bidding, jump in and not only emerge victorious but topped Ensign’s failed bid?
“Securing the right buyer who understands and respects Keiro’s history and unique cultural approach was critical,” President/CEO Shawn Miyake declared June 2 when announcing the Pacifica agreement. Managing director of housing Adam M. Bandel countered, “We are committed to continuing these important services and appreciate Keiro’s outstanding work in support of the Japanese community (and) we appreciate the opportunity to build on Keiro’s legacy and look forward to a smooth transition.” [The buyer has assured the Attorney General it will conduct “culturally sensitive” operations for five years.]
Comforting and PR-perfect. But what exactly is promised?
Nada. No matter what “culturally sensitive” is supposed to mean (maybe serving miso-shiru instead of paella). The agreement is between Pacifica and Keiro and there is no third party named to serve as a watchdog. This means there is no one/nothing to hold Pacifica to its promises. There is no monitor in place. Keiro, the seller, will have been paid off and no longer in position to voice protest even if it wanted to.
* I perused hundreds of pages of gobbledegook, the same material now under AG review. “Scanned” better describes, or probably “scrolled.” Admittedly not an attorney, realtor or accountant, I’m quite sure no one will be tossed out of a bed or into the street. In all probability the transition will be near-seamless if approved. I expect all aspects of Keiro operations to continue as they have for the past forty-six years. And I’m pretty sure the sky and curtain will not fall on Keiro. [*Surprised when asked to allow the translation and distribution of last week’s column for the benefit of Japanese reading audience. But alas, no, it wasn’t The Rafu Shimpo.]
Great Nisei Reunion II
A segue from Keiro woes to Tex Beneke whistling: The Great Nisei Reunion II musical extravaganza is right around the corner, Sunday, July 12, at La Mirada Theatre. With a capacity of 1,200, am pretty sure good seats are still available at $45/60 for the 2 p.m. show. A retro Beneke orchestra headlines the show with the Mills Brothers in support, along with The Islanders trio. Mary Kageyama Nomura, renowned “Songbird of Manzanar,” is an added attraction. Call (310) 627-7272 for tickets. Early buyer tickets are in the mail.
W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.