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Veteran Dies at VA Hospital Cafeteria While Waiting for ER Ambulance

Thursday, 03 Jul 2014 04:45 PM

By Morgan Chilson

A veteran collapsed and died while waiting 30 minutes for an ambulance to arrive at the Albuquerque Veterans Affairs hospital to take him to the emergency room just 500 yards away.

The man, whose name has not been released, was in the hospital cafeteria when he collapsed. The VA staff “did what they were supposed to and followed policy. They called 911, and waited for an ambulance to come and drive him around the building to the ER,” KOAT Action 7 News reported.

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“Imagine you’re at a hospital eating lunch and you collapse,” Kirsten Swanson said in her KOAT report. “Instead of doctors rushing to your aid, you wait 30 minutes for an ambulance to drive you around the building to the emergency room. ... VA policy states that if any medical emergency happens outside of the main hospital, staff calls 911.”

Individuals from the Kirtland Air Force Medical Group performed CPR on the man in the cafeteria.

“Our policy is under expedited review," VA spokeswoman Sonja Brown told The Associated Press.

KOAT said officials did not know if any doctors were in the cafeteria when the man collapsed.

News of the tragedy spread quickly, escalating concerns already rampant after government reports indicated that veterans were not being treated adequately or quickly enough at VA hospitals around the country.

Long delays in care for veterans highlighted “significant and chronic system failures” in the system, according to a report by Deputy White House Chief of Staff Rob Nabors, the AP reported.

“Once again another person has died as the result of some ‘policy,’ only to hear that they are ‘reviewing the policy.’ The more things change, they more they stay the same,” one person commented on the KOAT story.

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