Veteran dies waiting for ambulance in VA hospital in New Mexico

This May 19, 2014 photo shows a a sign in front of the Veterans Affairs building in Washington, D.C. KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- A veteran who collapsed in an Albuquerque Veterans Affairs hospital cafeteria, 500 yards from the emergency room, died after waiting 30 minutes for an ambulance, officials confirmed Thursday.

Officials at the hospital said it took a half an hour for the ambulance to be dispatched and take the man from one building to the other, which is about a five minute walk.

VA spokeswoman Sonja Brown said Kirtland Air Force Medical Group personnel performed CPR until the ambulance arrived.

She says staff followed policy in calling 911 when the man collapsed on Monday. "Our policy is under expedited review," Brown said.

The man's name hasn't been released.

The death comes at the Department of Veterans Affairs remains under scrutiny for widespread reports of long delays for treatment and medical appointments and of veterans dying while on waiting lists.

A review last week cited "significant and chronic system failures" in the nation's health system for veterans. The review also portrayed the struggling agency as one battling a corrosive culture of distrust, lacking in resources and ill-prepared to deal with an influx of new and older veterans with a range of medical and mental health care needs.

The scathing report by deputy White House chief of staff Rob Nabors said the Veterans Health Administration, the VA sub agency that provides health care to about 8.8 million veterans a year, has systematically ignored warnings about its deficiencies and must be fundamentally restructured.

The review says VA leadership is not prepared to deliver effective day-to-day management and is marked by an inherent lack of responsiveness.

Last month, CBS affiliate KRQE reported that there were mixed reviews about the service provided at Albuquerque's busy VA hospital.

More than half of 1,268 military veterans polled last June say it is "somewhat" or "very difficult" to access care at VA facilities, according to a Gallup poll.

Twenty-seven percent of veterans said it was "very difficult" to access care, and 28 percent said it was "somewhat difficult," according to the poll. Another 30 percent found it easy, with 20 percent saying it was "somewhat easy" and 10 percent saying it was "very easy." Fourteen percent of veterans had no opinion.

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