A delegation from Koreisha Senior Advocacy protests in front of Courtyard Marriott near Century City. The hotel is among the holdings of Pacifica Companies, which purchased the Keiro facilities last year. (Photo by Jeff Chop)
Koreisha Senior Care & Advocacy (formerly the Ad Hoc Committee to Save Keiro) protested on Jan. 28 outside the Courtyard Marriott in Century City, urging Pacifica Companies not to increase rents for elderly Japanese Americans.
Pacifica, a for-profit real estate development firm that owns the hotel, last year acquired four facilities previously operated by Keiro Senior HealthCare: Kei-Ai Los Angeles Healthcare Center in Lincoln Heights, Kei-Ai South Bay Healthcare Center in Gardena, Sakura Intermediate Care Facility in Boyle Heights, and Sakura Gardens Retirement Home in Boyle Heights.
The demonstrators also called on Pacifica to honor its commitment — one of the conditions of the sale — to maintain culturally appropriate care at the facilities for five years.
KSCA presented the hotel manager with a blown-up copy of a letter addressed to Ash Israni, Pacifica chairman and founding principal. The letter, which was also delivered to Pacifica’s corporate headquarters in San Diego on Jan. 26, reads as follows:
“On behalf of the Japanese American communities of Southern California, we strongly urge you (and your subcontractors) not to raise costs on the elderly residents of Keiro Homes, which Pacifica purchased in 2015.
“Any steep increases may drive out some of our elderly grandparents.
“We wanted to acknowledge that in the last three weeks there have been some response by Kei-Ai (Pacifica) to our continuing demands to improve care and comply with the ‘agreement.’ More bilingual nurses have been hired, finally.
“While we appreciate the improvements, the community understands that unless the community vocally protested, none of these improvements would have been made, which reinforces our conviction to continue to advocate vigorously for our seniors.
“We have delivered our demands to one of your offices in San Diego as well as today to the Courtyard Marriott in Los Angeles to reinforce the seriousness and commitment we have towards our goal of full compliance with the spirit and word of the agreement.”
Copies of the letter were sent to Adam Bandel, managing director of Pacifica Senior Living; Bill Feenan, vice president of operations for Pacifica Host Hotels; Rick Jensen, president and CEO of Northstar Senior Health (operator of the retirement home); and Clark Nelson, regional director of operations for Aspen Skilled Healthcare (operator of the nursing homes and intermediate care facility).
The marchers, some of whom carried signs saying, “Pacifica — Respect Our Seniors,” included Dr. Takeshi Matsumoto and Laura Morita of KCSA, who led a delegation into the hotel, and brothers Nobe and Yosh Kawano, who managed the clubhouses of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs, respectively, for 50 years.
“Both my dad and uncle in their 90s have been in Keiro for years,” commented Hana Kawano of the Wilshire District. “Pacifica must not let down the community and Keiro belong to the people.”
“This issue of elderly being moved out is happening to the Chinese elderly in Lincoln Heights and Latinos and Japanese in Boyle Heights,” said King Cheung of the Chinatown Council for Economic Development. “Some are retirement homes but most are apartments. Regardless, we all need to come together.”
“We support the elderly of Kei-Ai and demand Pacifica continue to keep their promise,” said Sonum Dixit of Medicare for All, a statewide coalition. “This shows we need a Medicare-for-all plan, including nursing homes.”
Pacifica did not immediately respond to a request for comment.