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Veteran dies waiting for ambulance in VA hospital

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 12:17 p.m. HST, Jul 03, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. >> A veteran who collapsed in an Albuquerque Veteran Affairs hospital cafeteria -- 500 yards from the emergency room -- died after waiting 30 minutes for an ambulance, officials confirmed Thursday.

It took a half an hour for the ambulance to be dispatched and take the man from one building to the other, which is about a five-minute walk, officials at the hospital said.

Kirtland Air Force Medical Group personnel performed CPR until the ambulance arrived, VA spokeswoman Sonja Brown said.

Staff followed policy in calling 911 when the man collapsed on Monday, she said. "Our policy is under expedited review," Brown said.

That policy is a local one, she said.

The man's name hasn't been released.

News of the man's death spread Thursday at the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center among veterans who were visiting for various medical reasons.

Lorenzo Calbert, 65, a U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War, said it was sad that a fellow veteran had to die so close to where he could have received help.

"There's no reason for it," he said. "They have so many workers. They could have put him on the gurney and run faster than that ambulance."

The death comes as the Department of Veterans Affairs remains under scrutiny for widespread reports of long delays for treatment and medical appointments and of veterans dying while on waiting lists.

A review last week cited "significant and chronic system failures" in the nation's health system for veterans. The review also portrayed the struggling agency as one battling a corrosive culture of distrust, lacking in resources and ill-prepared to deal with an influx of new and older veterans with a range of medical and mental health care needs.

The scathing report by Deputy White House chief of staff Rob Nabors said the Veterans Health Administration, the VA sub agency that provides health care to about 8.8 million veterans a year, has systematically ignored warnings about its deficiencies and must be fundamentally restructured.

Marc Landy, a political science professor at Boston College, said the Department of Veterans Affairs is a large bureaucracy with various local policies like the one under review in Albuquerque.

Although the agency needs to undergo reform, Landy said it's unfair to attack the VA too harshly on the recent Albuquerque death because it appears to be so unusual.

"I think we have to be careful," he said. "Let's not beat up too much on the VA while they are already facing criticism."

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nitpikker wrote:
give back those bonuses you crooks!
on July 3,2014 | 10:56AM
SueH wrote:
The delay seems not necessarily the fault of the beleaguered Veterans Affairs, but rather looks more disparagingly on the ambulance service.
on July 3,2014 | 11:03AM
kailua000 wrote:
but keep in mind - its a hospital. Are you telling me no one could figure out how to help this guy in the meantime. Oops, lets blame it on the ambulance service? how about blaming it on bad policy.
on July 4,2014 | 06:19AM
cojef wrote:
Hard to imagine what transpired looking at the photo above. Matter of 30 minutes for ambulance to arrive and then take veteran from cafeteria to emergency room located within the same hospital complex. Why and what was the veteran doing the cafeteria? Did he have an appointment or was he just a visitor?
on July 3,2014 | 11:31AM
false wrote:
Does it really make a difference what he was doing in the cafeteria?
on July 3,2014 | 12:14PM
stingray65 wrote:
False, actually waiting to die!! That is a very good point…Thanks.
on July 3,2014 | 03:13PM
stingray65 wrote:
What do you think he was doing at VA cafeteria? What difference does it makes? He needs medical assistance! Focus ! What do you do when you are sent to war zone?
on July 3,2014 | 03:11PM
DABLACK wrote:
The head cheese of that hospital need to have some contingency plans of issues such as these. The employees of every function can be more assertive and aware of their surroundings. All the hospitals, take heed !! "Lessons Learned" can still be their mantra. Come on , hospital heads....fix the problems instead of worrying how much you make a year !!
on July 4,2014 | 06:17AM
anon2 wrote:
or maybe they needed to throw out the plans and use common sense...
on July 4,2014 | 09:21AM
kailua000 wrote:
Wait...lets not beat up on the VA because they are already being criticized? Are you joking me?
on July 4,2014 | 06:18AM
Ronin006 wrote:
Deputy White House chief of staff Rob Nabors is right; the Veterans Health System has deficiencies and must be fundamentally restructured. This is how to do it. (1) Establish a VA Health Insurance Program for eligible veterans like TRICARE for military retirees. (2) Allow veterans enrolled in the VA Health Insurance Program to obtain the medical care they need from any private provider in or near the neighborhoods in which they live, like military retirees enrolled in TRICARE, instead of having to travel to a VA facility many miles away. (3) Close all VA hospitals and clinics. Reassign doctors and medical specialist to US Public Health Service and US military health facilities where vacancies may exist. VA health care employees who cannot be accommodated elsewhere within the federal system, will be handed their pink slips along with a nice severance pay, and hopefully find work in the private sector. This, in effect, will be a privatization of the VA Health Care System and will save tax payers billions of dollars annually.
on July 4,2014 | 04:40PM
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