HomeAsAmNews InvestigationAuthorities accused of turning their backs on 115 grieving families

Authorities accused of turning their backs on 115 grieving families

By Randall Yip, Executive Editor

Members of the Japanese American community say regulators have stonewalled them for several years in their quest to get answers about the 115 COVID deaths at Kei Ai Los Angeles.

Calls for federal and local investigations have gone unanswered for several years since the cluster of deaths occurred between 2020 and 2022. Yet the office of District Attorney George Gascon filed criminal charges connected to the deaths of 13 residents and one employee at an upscale Beverly Hills nursing home. Kei-Ai Los Angeles is a skilled nursing facility with a history of caring for Japanese American seniors.

The numbers from the American Community Survey paint a stark contrast.

Quote by Tony Chicotel on repeated nursing home violations
Graphic by Bailey Franzen

Kei-Ai Los Angeles is located in a zip code with an 18.1% poverty rate. Its population is a majority Hispanic zip code with 22 percent Asians and only 9 percent White.

The wealthier zip code is 77 percent White.  Its average household income is $172,000- $67,000 more than the other zip code.

“You know, you have 13 or so people die at Silverado (Beverly Place). They are mainly White. They’re in a rich area. On the other side of town, Kei-Ai Los Angeles is in one of the poorest household income districts in Los Angeles. 115 people died and there was no investigation. So just based on the facts, you know, just the superficial facts, it’s racist. They should have investigated,” said David Monkawa of Save our Seniors Network to AsAmNews.

The District Attorney’s office failed to respond to our request for comment other than to acknowledge it received the request. The courts eventually dismissed the DA’s case against Silverado Beverly Place.

A five-month investigation by AsAmNews found regulators at the state, federal and local level cited Kei-Ai Los Angeles for repeated COVID-related violations. Most of them accused Kei-Ai LA of improper use of personal protection equipment by staff and failure to designate a separate break room for workers assigned to COVID patients. Two doctors with patients at Kei-Ai described a breakdown in COVID protocols there.

“There’s very low consequences, insignificant consequences in some regards, for violations of any of the regulatory standards for the most part,” said Tony Chicotel, senior attorney for California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform. He’s not surprised at the findings of repeated violations.

“So, when it comes down to cost benefit analysis, it’s oftentimes much, much more profitable to violate the rule than to follow the rule.”

RELATED: What’s behind the 115 deaths at Kei-Ai Los Angeles

Quote from Dr. Kenneth Hayashida
Graphic by Bailey Franzen

Physician Kenneth Hayashida served on the community advisory board set up by then Attorney General Kamala Harris to monitor the quality of care at Kei Ai Los Angeles. The Japanese American non-profit Keiro owned the skilled nursing facility since 1977 before it sold it and three other senior care centers in 2016 for $41 million to Pacifica. The attorney general’s office mandated the establishment of the board under the conditions of sales it laid out.

Hayashida told AsAmNews the 115 COVID-deaths the state reported over the two-month period is underestimated.

“There needs to be a commission set up so that there can be a chart-by-chart review of those deaths,” Hayashida said.

He believes everyone from the Attorney General to every level of government “dropped the ball” and failed to protect the seniors living at Kei-Ai LA.

“You tell them and nothing happens. People are dying and you’re sitting there going ‘do something, people are dying’ and they just sit there on their hands.”

Rep Judy Chu (D-Pasadena) sent a letter to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services in November 2022 requesting an investigation of Kei-Ai Los Angeles. CMS denied her request despite letters of support for the investigation from the Save Our Seniors Network and the Japanese American Citizens League.

Kei-Ai LA sign
By Alan Oda

The Congresswoman says CMS refused to investigate saying it would look into Kei-Ai during its regular 15-month recertification survey which Chu says Kei-Ai LA passed after correcting some deficiencies.

“We are still very disturbed about that this period of 2020 to 2022, which is when all those deaths happened. There is still no accounting for this huge number of deaths that occurred at this time,” Chu said to AsAmNews.

CMS did not respond directly to questions about why it decided not to investigate those deaths more fully. Instead, it sent this statement to AsAmNews:

“Safe, comprehensive health care is a top priority for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Facilities are required to meet certain health and safety standards to be certified to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid program. CMS is committed to holding facilities accountable for meeting these standards. Providers participating in the Medicare program must be in substantial compliance with the Conditions of Participation (CoPs) for nursing homes, which can be found here.

Chicotel of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform says the failure to investigate Kei-Ai more thoroughly is a missed opportunity to be better prepared for the next pandemic.

“What I’m finding is we’re still trying to figure out the lessons that we should have learned. And so, yeah, I think, in order to better inform ourselves about infection control and other ways to protect residents during public health emergencies, we should be doing lots of investigations about what happened at that particular time,” he said.

(If you have any information about what might have happened at Kei-Ai LA, we want to hear from you. Please contact us at info at asamnews dot com.)

AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Follow us on FacebookX, InstagramTikTok and YouTube. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to produce diverse content about the AAPI communities. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.


  1. What now comes to mind is what (if anything) are the local political authorities / representation doing in response to this unacceptable situation …… by ‘what’ I mean genuine action, not working their slick mouth with meaningless platitudes while their mind is on profit yielding enterprises.
    And by the way, where is the chest thumping mainstream media in all this …. if there was a gun control agenda to be pushed they would be all over it …. how about a blue eyed blond haired victim of ‘gun violence’ …..
    And the Hollywood celebs who are so quick to support all kinds of politically correct causes????
    Yes, it all sounds cynical, but I think it is pretty close to the truth

  2. UNACCEPTABLE! Any and All elected officeholders need to be held accountable for the actions and lack of actions. ALL of them must be remembered and pay the price for their overt anti-Asian sentiments at ALL ELECTIONS. We Asian Americans are the ONLY LEGAL Americans who have had our rights as legal citizens minimized or taken away from the late 1800s and to this day. Politicians happily glad hand us for their votes but cast us aside once they are in office. For decades and decades we have been duped by their flowery sweet talk and continue to be treated as 2nd class citizens. ENOUGH is ENOUGH!

  3. Stuff happens when a non-profit sells its business/service to a for-profit. This is an ongoing lesson for similar organizations.


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