Since its founding in 1961, Keiro (“respect for our elders” in Japanese) has reflected the values of the Japanese American and Japanese community and its mission to enhance the quality of senior life in Our Community. Eight community leaders – George Aratani, Edwin Hiroto, Kiyo Maruyama, James Mitsumori, Gongoro Nakamura, Frank Omatsu, Joseph Shinoda, and Fred Wada – established Keiro to fulfill a need for compassionate, quality health care in a culturally-sensitive environment for the Issei (first generation) pioneers.
Thanks to their visionary leadership, Keiro became renowned for creating a continuum of aging services and residential care for Our Community. Keiro’s history is rich with innovation, evolution, and collaboration. Many personal sacrifices, generous donations, and hours of volunteerism propelled Keiro’s steady growth of services, and this legacy continues to inspire the organization to meet the changing needs of our community.
Keiro’s 50 years, 50 stories book (published during Keiro’s 50th Anniversary) is available here.
Keiro’s Umbrella of Care
With the purchase of the Japanese Hospital of Los Angeles in 1961, the founders set forth establishing Keiro’s “Umbrella of Care” – a model of comprehensive aging services encompassing acute hospital care, skilled nursing and intermediate care, and independent residential services. Keiro through the years grew to provide the full continuum of care through Keiro Nursing Home, Minami Keiro Nursing Home, South Bay Keiro Nursing Home, Keiro Intermediate Care Facility, and Keiro Retirement Home.
When government reimbursement programs for hospitals changed significantly with the introduction of diagnostic resource group payment models, the board fulfilled their fiduciary responsibilities and made the difficult decision to close City View Hospital in 1985.
The 57-bed hospital did not have the clinical resources or equipment to offer the level of high acuity care necessary to compete with larger community hospitals and sustain operations. The closure of City View Hospital resulted in a significant divide in the community. While moving away from acute care services, Keiro continued to focus on its nursing homes and vibrant retirement home community.
Keiro also demonstrated its resilience through tough times, such as the devastating Whittier earthquake in 1987, which caused severe structural damage to Keiro Retirement Home. With tremendous financial support from businesses and corporations in Japan, and the generosity of donors in the United States, Keiro Retirement Home was rebuilt and reopened in 1989.
In the late 90s, Keiro established a special memory care unit for patients with Alzheimer’s and other dementias at Keiro Nursing Home, creating new services to meet the needs of the community.
Genki Living at Home
In the late 90s, early 2000s, Keiro’s interest in expanding community-based services to aging adults and their caregivers led to the opening of two adult day centers (Keiro Adult Day Center of Orange County and Keiro Adult Day Healthcare Center in Torrance) to provide high-quality care and respite services throughout the day. However, the concept of adult daycare was ahead of its time. Both day care centers were eventually closed due to low enrollment and sustainability challenges.
In 2006, Keiro launched The Institute for Healthy Aging at Keiro, a new initiative to meet the growing need for resources, education, and caregiver support to promote “genki (healthy) living” at home. The Institute for Healthy Aging shared innovative and best practices by hosting conferences, events, and classes to age well and in a manner of their choosing.
As a trusted aging service provider, Keiro formed invaluable community partnerships throughout its history to create support networks among organizations serving older adults in the Japanese American community. This tradition of collaboration and partnership continues today and has become more important than ever to meet the diverse and evolving needs of older adults in Our community.
The Sale of the Four Former Facilities and the Transition
After many years of thoughtful consideration, research, scenario-based planning and consultations with experts in the field of aging services, the Keiro board made the difficult decision to shift the central pillar of its work from facility-based care to looking at the larger and diverse needs of our community’s older adults.
On February 5, 2016, Keiro and Pacifica closed escrow on Keiro’s four senior health care facilities (Keiro Nursing Home, South Bay Keiro Nursing Home, Keiro Intermediate Care Facility, and Keiro Retirement Home) to Pacifica Companies, LLC. The sale of the former Keiro facilities to Pacifica Companies, LLC. was conditionally approved by the Attorney General of California.
After the transition, Keiro began launching new programs and services to expand its reach to the larger community including, the Grants Program, Iyashi Care, Keiro no Hi Festival, and more.
While the ownership, management, and names of the former facilities changed after the sale in February 2016, Keiro continued to support the residents and staff of the former facilities throughout, and beyond, the conditional five-year period established by the Attorney General.
Some of the support include providing special opportunities for Japanese culturally-sensitive meals, entertainment, and events. The support extends to other facilities serving Japanese and Japanese American older adults as well. Read this article to learn more about what support is being provided.
60th Anniversary and Beyond
In 2021, Keiro celebrated its 60th Anniversary. (Click here to watch our 60th Anniversary Celebration program and read articles looking back at these 60 years.)
During the 60th anniversary celebration video, Lynn Miyamoto, the board chair shared, “The Board of Directors and I regrettably didn’t handle the sale well, and in hindsight, realize we should have done better. Going forward, we are committed to better engaging the community and our stakeholders in our future plans and decisions.”
Keiro remains committed to developing innovative programs, working with community partners, and offering essential resources to meet the evolving needs of older adults in Our Community.
Keiro means “respect for the elderly“ in Japanese. This core value is the guiding principle that links our current strategic initiatives to the founders. Keeping their legacy close to heart, Keiro strives to serve older adults wherever they call home, by enhancing the quality of senior life in Our Community.