Veteran Collapses at VA Hospital, Dies Because of Red Tape

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The Veteran Affairs agency hasn’t had the best track record in the news as of late, and this horrifying story out of Albuquerque, New Mexico won’t help matters much.

Veteran Jim Garcia was in the cafeteria of the Albuquerque VA medical center in early July when he collapsed, only 500 yards from the nearby emergency room. Still, the hospital staff were forced to follow protocol mandating an outside ambulance come to transfer him to the ER.

Because of that bureaucratic protocol, the staff were kept from helping Garcia and the 71 year-old Vietnam veteran died.

While the hospital was only a five-minute walk from the cafeteria, it took a good 20 minutes for the ambulance to arrive. According to hospital experts, it’s standard procedure for hospital staff to call 911 for a patient, no matter how close they are to the actual hospital. Standard or not, a man still died due to the foolhardy commitment to red-tape bureaucracy.

Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson was expected to address the incident¬†at a recent press conference, but his appearance lasted only 10 minutes before he insisted he had to take a phone call and didn’t return. Whether any further action will be taken on this incident remains to be seen. It’s safe to say, however, that there’s plenty of evidence justifying a retooling, or even a complete overhaul, of the Veteran Affairs agency.

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