In the early 1970s, aging Issei (first generation Japanese-Americans) had nowhere to go to receive culturally sensitive nursing care. In response to this need, seven Nisei (second generation) mobilized the Japanese community to develop a nursing home to meet the cultural, social, language and dietary needs of elderly Nikkei. In 1975, these visionaries created Issei Concerns, later known as Nikkei Concerns, and today is now known as Keiro Northwest.
An Array of Services
After a concerted fund development campaign, a skilled nursing facility opened its doors in South Seattle in 1976. By the end of the first year of operation, the facility was filled to near capacity, and demand was growing. Residents were receiving excellent care, and their lives were extending beyond expectation.
In the spring of 1985, Keiro Northwest embarked on its second major fundraising effort for a new $6.6 million, 150-bed facility. On May 6, 1986, the Keiro Rehabilitation and Care Center broke ground at 16th Avenue and Yesler Way. Over the years, Keiro Northwest developed Home Care, Catering, Kokoro Kai Adult Day program, Nikkei Horizons continuing education and Transportation services.
In 1995, Keiro Northwest embarked on another major campaign for the construction of a 50-unit assisted living facility for elders who did not require skilled nursing care, but could benefit from assistance with daily tasks. In 1998, Nikkei Manor opened its doors, located in the heart of Seattle’s International District.
In 2019, our not-for-profit organization responded to the growing challenges in the skilled nursing industry by closing the Keiro Rehabilitation and Care Center, as well as our community programs. We consolidated our services to direct all of our attention and resources to the assisted living community and the adult day program, both of specific value to our residents and aging members of our surrounding community.
Today, Nikkei Manor, our assisted living facility, continues to provide a warm and caring environment for our wonderful residents. With outstanding Japanese food served daily, enrichment activities to engage the hearts and minds, and a strong team of nurturing care staff, our residents enjoy a high quality of life in Seattle. In addition, our Kokoro Kai adult day program opens Nikkei Manor to the community so that elders living at home can enjoy a day program of lively activities, intergenerational programming, outing to local events, and a meal with familiar faces.
STATEMENT FROM THE KEIRO NORTHWEST BOARD OF DIRECTORS SEPTEMBER 2021
September 2021 marks the second year since the closing of the Keiro Rehabilitation and Care Center. As the new Board of Directors of Keiro Northwest, we recognize, acknowledge, and grieve with each of the families and all those affected by the losses that resulted. We have come together as a new Board because we are committed to the families and the Japanese American community. We seek to understand the past in order not to repeat it; and we are working to rebuild in support of this community that we all love.
While we were not involved at the time of the closure, as we have come to know the situation, we understand that many factors contributed to the inevitable shuttering of the Center. Looking back, the approach, including communication with the community, could have been different. Nevertheless, the leadership was in an unenviable position, and the closure could not have been forestalled forever.
Financial losses mounted under increasing costs as the state of Washington imposed significant increases in labor compensation. The costs of food, materials, and capital maintenance increased, as did the resulting costs of regulatory requirements. At the same time, federal Medicaid reimbursement, a source of revenue for the Center, was reduced. Not wanting to burden the families, the leadershipworked to keep fees as low as possible, resulting in some fees being charged below actual costs and below market rates. This created pressure for greater philanthropic support and donations, which ultimately was not enough to cover the losses.
It must be recognized that Keiro was not the only nursing facility to face these cost and revenue issues. In 2019 there were 7 other nursing facilities that closed in Washington State. And, in 2020 another 6 closed. This year, 2 have closed thus far. It is a business that continues to be financially very challenging.
Today Keiro Northwest continues as a strong and viable organization, with our Nikkei Manor providing our beloved seniors with an exceptional assisted living experience in a unique environment that surrounds them with excellent care, culturally desired food and activities, a rich social environment, and loving staff. All our systems were challenged over the last 18 months as we faced the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic; and we are proud of our team in keeping our residents 100% Covid-free, with no positive cases of residents or staff at Nikkei Manor. We continue to be ever diligent and focused on health and safety, while re-organizing in response to external pressures.
We will work through these challenges to strengthen our business. We are rebuilding this Board of Directors, mindful of the skills and cultural commitment needed to create a strong and promising future for Keiro. We are developing an organizationalstrategic plan which will consider the community’s needs and the evolving industry of senior living care. We have experienced finance professionals ensuring that we remain fiscally sound. And we seek to rebuild and strengthen the relationships that were damaged by the closing of the Center, ultimately earning the trust and respect of the families and the community.
We invite your partnership and involvement so we can together shape our future in the continued care of our elders. We welcome your comments, concerns, ideas, and support. And we commit to open communication and keeping you informed. To join us in this effort, please contact our Board Chair Carol Kessler at email@example.com, or our Board’s Community Outreach & Engagement Committee Co-chairs, Kimberly Miyazawa Frank, firstname.lastname@example.org Mara Kage, email@example.com.
With humility and gratitude, very sincerely,
The Board Members of Keiro Northwest
Carol Kessler, Board Chair
Monica Nixon, Board Vice Chair
Rich Asiodche, Treasurer
Kimberly Miyazawa Frank, Secretary
Karen Pfeiffer Bush
Lee Field, Ex officio