Safety First at MPTF

September 28, 2012

MPTF Country House Residents with their new pendantsWhy is it that sometimes it takes a real crisis to make us see our world a little more clearly?  That’s a pretty general question, I know, but here’s what prompted me to ask it.

Last November, long-time industry member Phil Isaacs (one of the truly great guys in the film distribution business), an independent living resident at the MPTF campus in Woodland Hills, went to his cottage after dinner to relax and go to sleep.  (Think of independent living as living on your own, but sharing meals and group activities with the other independent living residents on campus.)  But at some point (and Phil doesn’t remember how or when), Phil fell to the floor, wound up lying face down on his stomach, and couldn’t move well enough to right himself.  That meant that he couldn’t either get to the phone to call the MPTF operator or pull the emergency cord in his bathroom.  So for roughly 14 hours, in fact until the cleaning crew came to his room the next morning, Phil laid there, alone, scared, and getting increasingly debilitated.  He was rushed to West Hills Hospital, where he was treated for a few days, and then went on to Canyon Oaks for rehabilitation.

Phil just never recovered.  He couldn’t stand or walk.  (The doctors thought he might have suffered a heart attack while on the floor.)  As his daughter Karyn noted in an interview, “he wasn’t the same man after he fell.”   Once a great eater, at West Hills and then Canyon Oaks he was never hungry.  He hated his new dependency (he was a very independent guy) and the humiliation that went with it.  His only real concern was the health of his wife Rusty, who is living in Long-Term Care on the MPTF campus, and he encouraged his daughters to spend their time visiting with her.   And then Phil passed away.

His daughter Karyn mourned her father’s loss and decided to do something about it.  At a MPTF Family Council meeting not long after Phil’s passing, she got into a discussion with two other independent living residents, Norm Stevens and Chuck Ogle, and the three of them decided that what all of them needed was the same kind of emergency pendants that residents elsewhere in the campus had.  That’s where my point about seeing the world more clearly comes in.  Of course they should!!!

Karyn raised the issue at the Family Council meeting, which I attended, and then took on the role (she won’t mind me saying this) of Chief Noodge – “encouraging me” (not that I needed it!) to take some action, becoming an aggressive advocate for safeguarding the lives of all residents of the independent living community, and most especially those who live on their own.  And we have taken action.  I’m happy to say that today, thanks to a generous gift from the Heartbeat of Hollywood golf tournament, we have a robust wireless network surrounding the independent living portion of our campus and all of our residents are equipped with an emergency pendant.

We’d like to believe that we think of everything, that we’re always one step ahead, but of course we’re not.  We need advocates like Karyn Isaacs to light the light for us sometimes.  Thank you Karyn!

About Bob Beitcher

Bob Beitcher is the President and CEO of the Motion Picture & Television Fund. He has been a senior executive in the entertainment industry for 30 years, having held leadership roles at Jim Henson Productions, Paramount Pictures, Panavision and MacAndrews & Forbes Media Group. Bob has been an MPTF board member since 2007. He became interim CEO in 2010 and was named permanent CEO in 2011.

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