jon kajiBy JON KAJI

When the Board of Directors of Keiro Senior HealthCare decided to sell the current Boyle Heights facilities late last year, the obvious question in the community was “What’s next?”

Let’s assume that Keiro is able to sell the existing facilities to another senior health care provider and that there are net proceeds from the sale. It could be argued that any net revenues from the sale should be applied towards either purchasing or creating a new state-of-the-art Nikkei senior living facility.

For our own family, my parents have been living in a well-managed senior community located in West Torrance for the past three years. They are served their meals three times each day, with cleaning and linen service provided.

Of course, nothing’s perfect; the major “monku” is that the food is bland and that there is no “washoku” on the menu. The monthly rental payments are all-inclusive and are on the high end.

However, during their residency, there’s been a steady increase in the number of Nikkei residents moving in. Most are single Nisei and older Sansei.

Let’s face it — while many seniors would prefer to stay in their own homes, there may come a time when they are unable to drive, or take care of themselves. For them and their families, residing in a safe and caring community with other seniors is far and away better than living alone.

Now while West Torrance is a very desirable area, within a few minutes of Redondo Beach and Del Amo Fashion Square, the Nikkei residents still need to get their Japanese food “fix,” which usually means a drive to Mitsuwa, Marukai or into Gardena.

In real estate, there’s a well-known maxim, “location, location, location.” When the Keiro board decided to purchase the old Jewish Retirement Home many years ago, the community was already moving into the suburbs and further away from Boyle Heights and Little Tokyo.

Perhaps the sale of Keiro will now allow the board to focus on identifying a new location, either in the South Bay or in Orange County. By doing so, the new facility will be located where both the residents and the volunteers reside.

Additionally, a business model that is based on generating sufficient revenue to cover both the ongoing cost of operations, maintenance of the facilities as well as building up an endowment will insulate the new operations from any negative political changes as cited by the Keiro Board (“Obamacare”) and ensure that Keiro will forever be a self-funding and self-sufficient institution.

Let’s learn from the current situation, rethink the senior health care model, and create a better solution. Our community demands and deserves the best and we all share a collective responsibility to do better.

Jonathan Kaji is president of Kaji & Associates. He was a member of the President’s Export Council under President George H.W. Bush (1990-1992) and served as the director of the State of California Office of Trade and Investment. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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