Yeah, at the hospital my son was at, they actually had all the babies on seperate schedules for feeding, just so they could be held. Obviously very early or unstable babies werent, but within a few days they were holding my son for every feeding-even though it was by tube. They also had a 1:1 or 1:2 nurse/baby ratio, depending on the day.
As I said, my son was very quiet and didnt cry much, but the baby on the other side of the hallway was quite the opposite. She was always crying and getting worked up. If her parents were gone, I'd see the nurse try a binky and if that didnt work, they'd end up taking her out of the isolette and carrying her around to calm her. I also dont think I EVER saw nurses sitting around talking or playing on the computer. If they had a chance to sit down, it was generally only one, and not for very long.
Any nicu that was just letting the baby's cry should be reported. As someone else said-crying takes a lot of calories and energy. These baby's need to be as calm as possible so they can reserve as much of their calories as possible.