Another black eye for the Veterans Health Administration? A 71-year-old veteran died on Monday after waiting up to 30 minutes for an ambulance—while already at a Veteran Affairs hospital. Officials say the man collapsed in the Albuquerque hospital's cafeteria, which is around 1,500 feet from the emergency room, about a four-minute walk, the AP reports. By the time medics arrived, loaded him into the ambulance, and drove him around the building, it was too late to save him. A VA spokeswoman says staff followed policy by calling 911 when the man collapsed, but that "policy is under expedited review."
The man's family has asked that he remain unidentified because they are considering legal action, KOAT reports. The case comes after a long series of reports of serious deficiencies at the VA, including dozens of veterans dying while on "secret waiting lists," the Albuquerque Journal reports. Rep. Michelle Grisham says her office has been trying for days to get the VA to answer "whether its policy may have contributed to the delay in care." In any case, she says, "the inability of officials to answer basic questions in a timely fashion is yet another reason the public has lost faith, and why we are demanding an outside investigation and immediate reform at the Albuquerque VA."