Hollywood retirement community losing hospital

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Hollywood’s sprawling retirement community in suburban Los Angeles will close its on-campus hospital by year’s end and lay off a third of its staff to avoid bankruptcy in a few years.

The Motion Picture & Television Fund said Wednesday it is phasing out an acute-care hospital and long-term care facility at its Wasserman Campus in Woodland Hills to cut operating losses. In 2006, the MPTF closed a critical-care unit at the hospital, also over money issues.

“Although we are in good shape today, the acute-care hospital and long-term care facility are generating operating deficits that could bankrupt MPTF in a very few years,” said Jeffrey Katzenberg, board chairman at the MPTF Foundation, which oversees fundraising.

In announcing its hospital phase-out, the Hollywood-supported organization said it would expand community-based services by establishing a network of “community care teams” to coordinate and expand home-based and other medical and social services to entertainment industry retirees.

The nonprofit MPTF traces its history to 1921, when Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin and others created the Motion Picture Relief Fund to support economically challenged industryites. Its 44-acre retirement village was created two decades later, and health services including off-site care at six outpatient centers continued to expand over subsequent years.

The organization’s funding includes regular industry philanthropy and contributions by Hollywood labor organizations.

The hospital and long-term care facility have been losing an estimated $10 million annually over the past few years, part of an even great operating deficit the MPTF has had to carry. Officials said the moves would reduce MPTF red ink to a manageable level.

Some 209 job cuts will accompany the hospital and long-term care phase-outs. The roughly 100 patients residing in the long-term facility will be relocated over the next several months to area nursing homes, but the moves will not affect some 185 residents of MPTF’s independent and assisted-living facilities on the retirement campus.

Like other retirees, former industryites prefer to remain in their homes as long as possible these days, with the average age of those moving into the Wasserman campus now 86, MPTF chief executive David Tillman noted. The trend increases the need for community-based services and somewhat mitigates the impact of the hospital closure, he said.

The Wasserman campus memorializes years of support by the family of the late Hollywood mogul, Lew Wasserman. His widow, Edith Wasserman, is an MPTF board trustee.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter