A veteran who needed an ambulance after collapsing in the cafeteria of the Albuquerque, New Mexico, Veterans Affairs hospital, a short distance from the emergency room, died after waiting 30 minutes for EMS to arrive, VA officials said Thursday.
The man died Monday after waiting for the ambulance to transport him from the cafeteria to the emergency room, which the Associated Press reported was 500 yards away – or about a five-minute walk.
Sonja Brown, a VA spokeswoman, said hospital staff followed protocol by calling 911 when the man collapsed.
“Our policy is under expedited review,” she told the AP, adding that personnel with the Kirtland Air Force Medical Group performed CPR on the man while he waited for an ambulance.
The death occurred against the backdrop of strong criticism of the embattled Veterans Affairs Department. The VA is under fire after it was revealed in May that secret waiting lists were in place at the Phoenix VA hospital to hide how long veterans were waiting to receive care, leading to the resignation of then-Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki. About 1,700 veterans were on the list and another 1,400 ex-military members had to wait more than 90 days to see their primary care doctor.
Similar problems were later found at VA hospitals in the Midwest.