By GWEN MURANAKA, Rafu Senior Editor
Keiro is listening. That’s the message from Beverly Ito, Keiro president and CEO, as it conducts a community-wide online survey.
Ito, former administrator of the Sakura Intermediate Care Facility, was appointed in December of last year. In an interview with The Rafu, she explained that it was important for all facets of the local Japanese and Japanese American community to participate in the survey, even those who have been sharply critical of the organization following its sale of the facilities in 2016.
“I’m going to be honest, when the board made the decision to sell the facilities, Keiro took a lot of criticism for not listening. We did not want to repeat that mistake,” Ito said.
“On our website we try to be transparent. If you’re still angry about the sale, we want to hear from you. We don’t want it to be skewed only towards our supporters. If you’re indifferent or continue to be angry toward us, we want to hear from you.”
Keiro is urging those who are Japanese or Japanese American and reside or have a close loved one residing in L.A., Orange or Ventura counties to participate. Throughout the summer, Keiro have been at Obon festivals, and recently at Nisei Week, to give community information about their services and the survey.
The survey, conducted by Vantage Research & Consulting Inc., seeks to find the needs and preferences in the community in issues related to aging, whether for oneself, parents, grandparents or spouses. The deadline to sign up is Aug. 31. Participants will receive, via email, a link to the survey, which takes about 10 to 15 minutes to complete. The deadline to receive a paper survey has already passed.
“As we look at how we can evolve as an organization, it is important for us to consider what are the preferences of the Japanese American and Japanese communities,” Ito said.
Ito has seen the changes in the how the Japanese American community ages first-hand. She worked for Keiro as a pharmacist at City View Hospital, assistant administrator at Keiro Nursing Home, chief compliance and privacy officer, and administrator of Keiro Intermediate Care Facility.
Following the sale of the Keiro facilities in 2016, Ito stayed on as administrator of Sakura Intermediate Care Facility until its closure in August 2021. The decision by Pacifica Co. to close Sakura ICF to build market-rate housing was met with mass protests, which Ito viewed from inside the facility as she and her staff took care of the residents.
“We had some dark moments but in the end I would talk to my social workers about this, we could sleep at night, because we knew we were working in the best interests for families and residents,” she said.
She accepted her new position at Keiro as an opportunity to help the community and she welcomes the chance to speak with everyone, including critics.
“Trying to build bridges to some of these groups who have been very vocal and try to encourage them to take our survey. I try just always be motivated by doing the right thing, maintaining integrity,” Ito said.
She said she hopes Nikkei in all stages in life participate and have their voices heard. As an example, she said her daughters could respond as future caregivers.
“Tell us how they best identify, as an older adult. Are you receiving care? Are you a caregiver or anticipate being a caregiver in the future?
“We understand most want to age at home, but if you had to go into a facility, what would trigger that decision? Is it a loss of spouse, can’t manage household, or your health declines?” Ito explained.
The data from the survey will be compiled and provide Keiro with additional direction on what types of sustainable services to provide in the future.
Ito emphasized “sustainable” as costs continue to rise, including the minimum wage for skilled nursing workers amid an overall labor shortage in the healthcare industry.
“There are so many gaps in our aging journey and as people are living longer they’re going to come to that last hurdle and they need more support. What does that look like and how can we prepare for that?” she said.
For more information, frequently asked questions, and to sign up, visit http://keiro.org/survey. For any questions, contact (213) 873-5700 or email@example.com.