“Voices of Our Seniors” Kei-Ai Survivor Families and Sakura ICF Senior Relocatees to Share Their Stories on Sept 18

Save Our Seniors Network (SOSN) is sponsoring an event to present a panel of the families who testified to James Toma, California State Special Assistant Attorney General. They will be sharing their experiences at a community meeting on September 18, from 2 pm – 4 pm at Rissho Kosei-kai Buddhist Church in Boyle Heights.

The program will also include the following presenters:

Dr. Takeshi Matsumoto, MD: Internal Medicine Specialist in Los Angeles with over 40 years of experience caring for the residents at the former Keiro facilities.

Dr. Nadine Momoyo Diaz: Geriatric Social Worker and Researcher at the USC Keck School of Medicine Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and an Adjunct Professor at California State University Dominguez Hills Department of Social Work.

David Monkawa: Co-Chair of Save Our Seniors Network and former healthcare union organizer.

In 2016, all four Keiro facilities were sold to Pacifica Companies, a for-profit resort development corporation, for $41 million. Keiro’s current account surplus totals about $84 million, resulting from both the sale of its facilities and the many decades of donations from the community. However, so far they have not provided any substantial funds towards “residential care.”

About 70 seniors were evicted from Sakura Intermediate Care Facility (ICF) in 2021, the last remaining ICF which provides bilingual and bicultural care. Pacifica closed the facility and are planning to build market rate apartments. This betrayed the original purpose on which Keiro Health Care was established by the original founders over 50 years ago.

Sakura ICF boarded up
(ABOVE PHOTO: Sakura ICF was the only bilingual/bi-cultural facility of its kind in the U.S.A. and had been kept 100% COVID-19 free during the pandemic up to the point of closure in August 2021.)

The seniors and their families endured much pressure to leave the ICF in the middle of the pandemic. The ex-Sakura ICF residents and their families, with strong support from the community, resisted the evictions. However, by early August, only eight residents remained in the ICF, supported by their families.

After Save Our Seniors Network held its first community rally on Jan. 26, 2021, Pacifica responded and announced on Jan. 28, 2021: “None of the current residents of the ICF will be evicted … Pacifica understands that the ICF staff have been an extension of the family for residents … and remains committed to maintaining staff that contribute so much to resident care.” Keiro published their statement praising Pacifica, and they endorsed the eviction of residents a few days later.

Kei-Ai Los Angeles, formerly Keiro LA Nursing Home, was one of 27 nursing homes participating in a county program that allowed nursing facilities to volunteer to receive COVID patients from hospitals and other nursing facilities. At least 115 COVID-related deaths have been recorded at Kei-Ai LA, making it the most deadly nursing home in the western United States, based on the 300 total bed count.

Save Our Seniors Network (SOSN) is an all-volunteer network of individuals and organizations working to secure the continuation of bilingual and bicultural care services for seniors residing at the facilities, formerly known as Keiro Nursing and Retirement Homes, a Japanese American institution for nearly 50 years. No other facilities exist that provide the same level of culturally sensitive care as these facilities and so the healthcare inequality persists.

Public is invited. Rissho Kosei-Kai Buddhist Church, 2707 First Street, Los Angeles CA 90033. In-person and zoom meeting available. RSVP email: saveourseniors@progressiveasians.org

Pacifica Companies Artist Vision of Market Rate Apts in Sakura ICF location
The Keiro non-profit’s unpopular selling of the original Keiro Nursing and Retirement Homes, brokered by now U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, to international Real Estate Developer, Pacifica Companies, who had the cold-heartedness to evict Japanese American seniors, aged 80 into their 100’s from the Sakura ICF in the middle of a pandemic to make way for their vision of market-rate housing. Such a development will also accelerate displacement in Boyle Heights.

SOSN and legislative allies attempted to forestall the evictions from the ICF, which had been kept 100% COVID-19 free but the California Association of Health Facilities – controlled California Department of Public Health pressured Governor Gavin Newsom to veto a bill with would have stalled the closure and evictions to July 2022.

Please join SOSN in the fight to win full equality for Japanese American and Japanese seniors.

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