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Doctors, nurses defend Olive View-UCLA Medical Center against allegations of substandard care

May 19, 2010 | 11:27 am

More than a dozen doctors and nurses gathered Wednesday outside Olive View-UCLA Medical Center in Sylmar to reject recent allegations of substandard care at the county hospital.

The allegations, reported earlier this month to the hospital's accrediting agency, included charges that staff gave colleagues manicures and other cosmetic services in the neonatal intensive-care unit.

Carol Meyer, chief of operations for the county's Department of Health Services, said officials interviewed and took sworn affidavits from more than 80 staff members and placed two on paid leave in connection with the manicures, but she stressed that no patients were harmed and that no staffing changes have been made in response to the allegations.

"We are up to par at this facility," Meyer said.

Olive View is among a handful of hospitals statewide that have received four penalties during the last three years for medical errors that harmed or endangered patients.

But Dr. Rima Matevosian, Olive View's interim chief medical officer, defended the hospital's record Wednesday and said doctors are accountable to patients.

"We recognize this is a public institution, and we have a special obligation to our patients, especially the most vulnerable," Matevosian said. "We will do what is necessary to retain the trust they place in us."

Matevosian and other medical professionals were accompanied by Olive View's chief executive, Carolyn Rhee, who declined to comment.

They stood in front of Olive View's new $60-million emergency room and inpatient unit, scheduled to open early next year and to be equipped to treat twice as many emergency patients, with about 51 treatment bays, a hospital spokeswoman said.

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske in Sylmar

Photo: Olive View-UCLA Medical Center Chief Executive Carolyn Rhee, left, and several doctors attend a news conference Wednesday to defend the hospital against recent allegations of substandard care. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times