Reports the Los Angeles Times, "officials have placed two Olive-View-UCLA Medical Center staffers on paid leave after "allegations that they had participated in a makeshift beauty salon atop medical equipment in the ward for high-risk newborns." And it gets weirder:
Perhaps not shockingly, this isn't the only instance of "substandard care" alleged against the neonatal ICU via anonymous tipsters. There are more general charges, apparently, of understaffing and incompetence. But the salon allegations are, somehow, especially damning.
Said the complaint, "nurses and doctors through the shift get their manicures, eye brows waxed and nails filed...The smell of acetone permeates the back area of the NICU." One doctor allegedly "had a French manicure right on the high frequency ventilator." So, yes, that does imply not merely presumed neglect of the baby patients, but also the presence of harsh chemicals - to say nothing of hot wax and files. Acetone is highly toxic to anyone; I wouldn't think you'd need to be a doctor to guess that it doesn't do the compromised immune systems of high-risk newborns any favors - but apparently scores of medical professionals were okay with it! Indeed, according to the LA Times, even members of the the hospital's' infectious disease staff were clients. Why not add a smoking lounge while they were at it? Wouldn't those babies have enjoyed a little gin with their formula?
In a statement, the hospital's CEO said,
Olive View-UCLA Medical Center takes this situation very seriously and we are aggressively investigating the allegations...The first concern of the hospital is always patient safety and quality of care. We comply with all state and federal requirements. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit provides safe, high quality care to our youngest patients.
That said, Carol Meyer, the chief network officer for the county's Department of Health Services, says no babies were harmed as a result of the salon (which, we might add, despite probably being unusually clean, did not technically meet any state health-inspection requirements) and said that
"there's nothing to notify parents of unless we verify something." However, we see settlements in someone's future. And some seriously ragged cuticles around UCLA.