Rep. Judy Chu speaks at the Kansha Obon in front of JANM on Oct. 8.

Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena) has called for a multi-level investigation into the COVID-19 deaths at Kei-Ai Los Angeles, owned by Pacifica Companies, during her keynote speech at the “Kansha Obon 3” event held by the Save Our Seniors Network on Oct. 8 in Little Tokyo.

“I will be writing a letter to CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) and at the state-level counterpart, asking for an investigation into these deaths,” she said. “And I will demand answers! We must be assured that these complaints and these lives are not swept under the rug. This community and these seniors are too precious a resource to just abandon.”

Chu, the chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, also is a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee’s Health Subcommittee, which monitors and pays for all federally subsidized healthcare, including nursing homes like Pacifica’s Kei-Ai L.A.

The multi-media event outside the Japanese American National Museum was held to commemorate the 70 seniors who were evicted during the pandemic, in particular those who did not survive the relocation, and the extremely high number, 134, who died from COVID-19 at Kei-Ai L.A. in Lincoln Heights and Kei-Ai South Bay in Gardena. In 2021 The Los Angeles Times called Kei-Ai L.A. “the deadliest single facility in California.”

Emcee Derek Mio, star of AMC’s “The Terror: Infamy,” introduced Francine Imai, former chair of the Sakura Family Council, representing the families who were evicted from the Sakura (formerly Keiro) Intermediate Care Facility in Boyle Heights.

She stated; “My mom passed way only four months after the relocation. I hope and pray that all those who had to endure the concentration camps and much suffering in the early part of their lives are able to enjoy peace and not have to go through this in the twilight of their lives.”

A powerful Interfaith candlelight ceremony, organized by Rev. Ray Fukumoto, featured local clergy: Minister Diane Ujiiye, Rinban Noriaki Ito of Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple, Rev. Ken Nagata of Rissho-Kosei Kai Buddhist Church, and Geoff Yamamoto from Maryknoll Catholic Church.

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