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Vet dies on VA hospital ground waiting for ambulance


A New Mexico veterans hospital is reviewing its policy after a veteran died inside the facility waiting for an ambulance to take him 500 yards to the emergency room.

Imagine you're at a hospital, eating lunch and you collapse. Instead of doctors rushing to your aid, you wait 30 minutes for an ambulance to drive you around the building to the emergency room.

That scenario became reality for one veteran Monday. According to officials at the VA, a patient collapsed in the cafeteria Monday. Witnesses say he looked like he was having a heart attack. So, staff in the cafeteria followed the rules in place.

VA policy states that if any medical emergency happens outside of the main hospital, staff calls 911.The Albuquerque Fire Department told Action 7 News that an ambulance did dispatch a crew Monday at 12:30 p.m. to the VA hospital's address. EMT's arrived on scene and loaded the veteran in the ambulance. They drove him, on the VA complex, from one building to another.

This map shows where the cafeteria is located on the Albuquerque VA property. It also shows the pathway around the exterior of the main hospital to the emergency room entrance. It takes four minutes to walk that green line on the map. By the time the ambulance got to the cafeteria, loaded up the veteran and drove him around the building, it was too late... He died.

When Action 7 News asked the VA why the man wasn't helped on property or even wheeled on a gurney to the ER, a spokesperson responded with "we are currently reviewing our policy on it."