Vet dies in hospital cafeteria 500 yards from emergency room; delayed by VA policy to call 911

A veteran who collapsed in a hospital cafeteria died while waiting for an ambulance to transport him 500 yards to the emergency room, officials confirmed Thursday.

The incident occurred on Monday at the Albuquerque Veterans Affairs and the man’s name has not been released, ABC’s KOAT7 reported.

Staff members on the scene followed hospital procedure by calling 911, and waiting the approximate 20 minutes for ambulance to arrive. That policy is now under review, hospital spokeswoman Sonja Brown told the Associated Press.

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Vietnam veteran Lorenzo Colbert, who witnessed the tragedy, said, “There’s no reason for it. They have so many workers. They could have put him on the gurney and run faster than that ambulance.”

The distance from the cafeteria to the ER was about a four-minute walk, KOAT reported, and the unnecessary death adds more weight to the preponderance of seeming widespread incompetence plaguing the nation’s largest health care system.

Watch the KOAT report here.

Richard Berkow

Former political news reporter Richard Berkow lost his idealism in the Kennedy years, and his innocence in Vietnam, Lebanon, and the Soviet Union. He hasn’t mellowed since, and can be harassed at [email protected]

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