Disaster Relief Workers in Puerto Rico Treat Themselves to Taxpayer-Funded ‘Spa Day' Given by ... Puerto Ricans

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Here are a couple of things your tax dollars have paid for in the past few weeks: Vice President Michael Pence’s NFL protest/publicity stunt, the Scotch tape keeping Donald Trump’s ties together, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders calling for Jemele Hill to get fired, and federal relief workers treating themselves to a “spa day”—from the very people they are supposed to be helping.


A veteran doctor has alleged that federal disaster relief workers in Puerto Rico brought in locals to treat them to manicures and pedicures. The incident was so egregious and “personally abhorrent” to the senior medical officer that she quit the disaster-response team in Puerto Rico.

The story was originally reported by Rachel Maddow on her MSNBC show and picked up by Raw Story.

The doctor, who has served on humanitarian missions in 10 countries for over 20 years, says she has never seen a disaster relief operation being run the way it has been in Puerto Rico. Maddow never mentions the doctor’s name, but in a response to a query from the show, the Department of Health and Human Services—whose medical staffers reportedly organized the spa day—refers to the doctor as “Dr. Khanna.”

According to Khanna, members of the Disaster Medical Assistance Team “used the triage tents that are supposed to be for medical care and instead brought in local Puerto Rican residents to give the medical workers cut-rate manicures and pedicures.” The spa treatments were given while the relief workers were on the clock.

Khanna also shared photos with MSNBC that show the medical professionals wearing flip-flops in an environment that was supposed to be sterile.


After witnessing the “gross misuse of taxpayer funds and abuse of our privileged positions,” Khanna wrote a lengthy resignation letter to the National Disaster Medical System, according to Raw Story.

“I can no longer serve with honor,” Khanna told her superiors at the agency.

Let’s say it again slowly: Medical personnel. On a tax-funded relief mission. Charged with treating sick and injured Puerto Ricans. Opted to use the triage tents intended to provide care. To instead bring in local residents. The same population they were supposed to caring for. People with limited access to drinking water, food and electricity. And had those Puerto Ricans give them manicures and pedicures at cut-rate prices.


Earlier today, Trump tweeted about Puerto Rico again, saying the “wonderful people” of the island “know how bad things were before the H’s.” We assume the H stands for hurricanes.


While news outlets are still struggling to determine an accurate death count in Puerto Rico, one fact remains clear: The federal response to Hurricane Maria has been a disaster all its own.

Read more at Raw Story.

Staff writer, The Root.



I may be one of the few folks that don’t have a problem with this. Yes many of the workers have been grinding for several days working numerous hours helping to get Puerto Rico back on-line. IF the aid workers are patronizing Puerto Rican businesses, since those businesses do need customers, AND the aid workers are putting REAL MONEY in those business owners hands, it’s cool.

There are multiple ways to put money into a community; let’s not reach here folks.