A veteran who collapsed and died in the Albuquerque Veteran Affairs hospital cafeteria was waiting for an ambulance for half an hour, the Associated Press confirmed with officials on Thursday. The cafeteria is just a five-minute walk from the hospital's emergency room, but it took officials 30 minutes just to dispatch an ambulance to help him on Monday.
Apparently, hospital policy instructs employees to call 911 and wait for an ambulance, which is exactly what happened in the case of the unnamed veteran. According to KOAT, officials said they were "reviewing" that policy when asked why the veteran wasn't, say, loaded up onto a gurney and wheeled to the nearby emergency room. Kirtland Air Force Medical Group treated the veteran with CPR while they waited for the ambulance, officials told the AP.
Monday's death comes at an especially bad time for the VA's health care system, just a week after acting VA secretary, Sloan Gibson and Deputy White House Chief of Staff Rob Nabors gave the president a blistering report on the state of the VA hospital system's bureaucracy. The report described a "corrosive culture" that "tends to minimize problems or refuse to acknowledge problems at all."