Tragic story out of Albuquerque, New Mexico where Jim Garcia collapsed at the cafeteria of the VA medical center in early July, and though he was only 500 yards from an emergency room, hospital staff were forced to follow protocol that mandated that an outside ambulance transfer him to the ER.
While he was waiting for the ambulance to arrive, the 71-year-old Vietnam veteran died.
Hospital officials confirmed it took 15 to 20 minutes for the ambulance to be dispatched and take Garcia to the emergency room — a five-minute walk from the cafeteria.
Hospital emergency experts said its standard protocol for hospitals to require staff to call 911, even with patients are near an emergency room.
While this protocol may be “standard,” it should not have taken precedence over the fact this was an emergency which lead to the unnecessary death of a veteran.
Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson attempted to address the situation at a press conference at the medical center, but after answering less than 10 minutes of questions, insisted that he had to take a phone call and hoped to quickly return. He never did.
Veterans have valid reasons for their mistrust of the VA system. The VA has been allowed to operate haphazardly, and has been extremely mismanaged leading to not only lack of care, but in many cases death. A complete overhaul is necessary to give our veterans the care they need and deserve.