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Crowds protest closure of Valley hospital

January 22, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Changes are planned for the Motion Picture and Television Acute Care Hospital and Long Term Care Facility. Administrators say the hospital is operating at a deficit, but workers say it will leave many who depend on the facility out in the cold.Changes are planned for the Motion Picture and Television Fund acute care hospital and long term care facility. Administrators say the hospital is operating at a deficit, but workers say it will leave many who depend on the facility out in the cold.

A protest was going strong Thursday afternoon as healthcare workers, representative from the union, family members, patients at the Motion Picture and Television Fund hospital, and actors of course all gathered. They were protesting the closure that is slated for the end of this year. Two-hundred-forty employees will lose their jobs and patients will be forced out.

Administrators claim the two facilities have been losing money, more than $10 million a year. But demonstrators say there's more to this story, that administrators and the hospital board don't want the burden of keeping the facilities open.

The hospital and nursing home were built in the 1940s specifically to care for those in the entertainment industry. The slogan: "We take care of our own." Demonstrators say the hospital board members and administrators are doing anything but. They claim the patients are being unjustly evicted.

"They are more than just their legs and arms," said healthcare worker Myra Torres. "They are more than just bodies in wheelchairs and beds. They are human beings. They have a mind, a heart and feelings. For some we are the only family they have and for others, we are closer than family."

"This decision was indeed a fiscal decision," said actor John Schneider. "It was made in the back room some months ago. And we didn't lose the debate. We were not invited to the debate."

"This was the gift from the industry to the people who have worked the hardest," said Jill Schary Robinson, wife of one patient. "This isn't big stars and stuff to provide that joy, drama and delight which has given so much to our democracy."

The operating money has come from the Hollywood entertainment community but administrators and the hospital board do not plan to ask for any kind of bailout. That comes directly from the president of the Motion Picture and Television Fund, Dr. David Tillman.

Eyewitness News spoke to Dr. Tillman last week when it was announced that the two facilities would close by the end of the year. Now the demonstrators here, they are demanding a meeting with the hospital board administrators to try to keep these facilities open. So far that meeting has not been granted. They say they'll be out here fighting their battle until they get what they want.


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