WASHINGTON, July 3, 2014 – Instead of doing everything possible to save the veteran, hospital policy to triumphed over common sense, and another vet has died. Possibly needlessly.
The Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center in New Mexico allowed A 71 year old, as yet unnamed, veteran who collapsed in in the center’s cafeteria – about 500 yards from the emergency room, die on Thursday. The vet was left waiting over 30 minutes for an ambulance crew to be dispatched to transport the man from the cafeteria to the emergency room.
Reports are that the man collapsed at 12:19pm, a rescue unit dispatched from the Albuquerque Fire Department at 12:26 pm and the unit arrived at the emergency room at 12:39. Staff at the Veteran’s Hospital followed written policy that states the for medical emergency’s outside the hospital building, emergency paramedics must be called. Only the life saving emergency care of the ER is only about a five minute walk from the cafeteria according to witnesses.
According to the center’s web site, the ER is located in Building 41, on the first floor while the cafeteria is located in building one, so they are in separate buildings, but they are not located that far apart.
VA spokeswoman Sonja Brown said that a Kirtland Air Force Medical Group performed CPR on the man while they were waiting for emergency crews to arrive. Brown was previously asked about the Albuquerque, NM delayed response to whistleblower allegations that “We take all allegations about improper patient care very seriously. As a result of this information, these matters will be immediately addressed.”
Eyewitness, U.S. Army Veteran (Vietnam) Lorezo Calbert, aged 65 was expressed sadness over the death of the vet.
“There’s no reason for it,” he said. “They have so many workers. They could have put him on the gurney and run faster than that ambulance.”
A review of the VA last week cited “significant and chronic system failures” through the VA health care system.
The report by Deputy White House chief of staff Rob Nabors says that the agency that proves health care to some 8.8 million veterans per year has been negligent in ignoring warnings that the system was riddled with deficiencies. Specifically the review says that present VA leadership is unable to deliver effective management and is plagued by an inherent lack of responsiveness.
The review further portrayed the agency as “battling a corrosive culture of distrust”, and that it not only lacking in resources, but is it not prepared to handle the large number of older veterans, but one would assume the large number of drastically wounded returning from war theaters.
A list, obtained from the House Veterans Affairs by CBS News show that even with the scandal being revealed, including the deaths and suffering of veterans that were denied care, that VA executives received huge bonuses that the House Committee says were part of the reason that executives gamed the system.
Internal VA memos show that coverups of extended waits, including those resulting in deaths, have been happening for six years with specified scheduling practices employed to coverup extended wait times. (see pdf attached)
Examples of bonuses received by VA hospital administrators includes Cynthia McCormack, the VA Hospital Director in Cheyenne Wyoming who received $8,265 in bonuses even though the wait times at the hospital were falsely recorded and a “bad boy” list of employees who did not alter reports was kept.
McCormack is just one of many and the VA response is that her bonus was calculated based on information available at the time.
The VA continues to cover up the cover up however the number of veterans waiting at least 90 days for a first appointment have dropped from 57,000 to 46,000. A June Gallup poll of 1,268 military veterans says it is “somewhat” (28%) to “very” (27%) difficult to access care at VA facilities. 30% of those responding found it easy, while 20% said it was somewhat easy.
READ ALSO: Our veterans deserve better
While on the subject, lets not forget who our vets are: