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Improper disposal of blood, needles alleged at ‘vampire facials’ spa

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

An Albuquerque spa that was shut down last week is accused of improperly pouring blood from client procedures down the drain and storing items used in its “vampire facials” in a kitchen area where food was also kept, according to a complaint filed with the Attorney General’s Office.

VIP Spa was targeted after one of its clients developed an infection, prompting the state this week to warn other customers who received vampire facials and certain other services to be tested for HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

The complaint, filed by the state Board of Barbers and Cosmetologists, alleges that the business “appeared to be operating as a medical spa rather than a cosmetology establishment.” The name of the business was redacted, but state officials have identified the spa, at 809 Tijeras NW.

The complaint alleges numerous regulatory violations found during an inspection on Sept. 7.

Several involve the disposal and storage of needles. Needles are used in vampire facials, a procedure in which a provider draws about 2 teaspoons of blood and uses a centrifuge to isolate platelets. The material is then injected into the face as a way to rejuvenate skin.

A woman who answered the phone at the spa Friday referred questions to lawyer Jane Rocha De Gandara, who has not responded.

Inspectors found that used needles at the spa were disposed of in a trash can and that no records were kept of waste removal. Used needles are supposed to be collected in approved containers, the complaint says.

The complaint says health inspectors were told that blood was poured down the drain in violation of a regulation that outlines a method of putting contaminated waste in covered receptacles and using “approved disposal methods.”

The problem involving the kitchen area, according to the complaint, is that the area where food was stored and prepared was not kept “completely separated.” The same area was also used “for storage of various chemicals, products and implements and was also being used to process the blood for the vampire facials, the complaint said.

Other findings:

• A basket on a kitchen counter contained a bag of candy along with collection tubes containing blood.

• Foot tubs “did not appear to be clean or properly sanitized.”

• Nail files and buffers “appeared to be worn and/or used. They should have been disposed of after being used on a client.”

VIP Spa was shut down after the Sept. 7 inspection because it did not have a required state “establishment license,” according to a cease-and-desist order.

The business failed an inspection in 2012 after it was accused of providing permanent makeup service without a license, according to state records.

Customers who received injections at the spa can get free testing and counseling at the Midtown Public Health Office, 2400 Wellesley NE, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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