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Home > Topics > Fatal Incidents

VA finds no fault in response to vet who died

The Department of Veteran Affairs secretary ordered a "rigorous" review of the incident where a veteran collapsed in a VA hospital cafeteria

By Colleen Heild
Albuquerque Journal

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Sloan Gibson, the acting secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, found no fault with the VA’s response to a 71-year-old Vietnam Veteran who collapsed while in the cafeteria of the VA Medical Center in Albuquerque and was treated by bystanders instead of the medical center’s Code Blue team.

Yet, in an appearance in Albuquerque Thursday, Gibson said he’s ordered a “rigorous” review of the incident, in which Jim Napoleon Garcia later died of an apparent heart attack. Rather than dispatch a VA special medical team, local VA policy dictated that 911 be called to aid the man. The cafeteria, which is about 500 yards from the main hospital building, lies outside the response area for the VA’s Code Blue Team

Gibson said bystanders, who included members of the 377th Air Force medical unit, gave CPR to Garcia. City of Albuquerque paramedics arrived about 11 minutes after being called to the scene. Dr. Tom Lynch, VA assistant deputy undersecretary for health and clinical operations, who accompanied Gibson on his visit to New Mexico, said those who came to Garcia’s aid before paramedics arrived “did a good job.”

 “I think everything was done to help this veteran,” Lynch said. “I think, though, that if we are going to be a great health care system we need to examine what we did, we need to learn from it and we need to improve what we do so we can deliver better care to veterans in the future.”


McClatchy-Tribune News Service
©2014 the Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.M.)

The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.
Michael N. Ruff Michael N. Ruff Friday, July 18, 2014 6:06:00 AM That quote from Mr. Lynch is rich - "I think that everything was done to help this veteran" is a bunch of CRAP. They had a code team on site but this place did not fall under their response area. But they are going to do a rigorous review of the incident which is Government speak for "we know we were wrong but we'll make it look like we weren't"
John Murphy Jr John Murphy Jr Friday, July 18, 2014 9:39:06 PM What a freakin crock of crap. The government needs a serious overhaul and remove all the incompetent idiots that are sucking tax payers dry.
Joseph Larson Joseph Larson Saturday, July 19, 2014 12:53:30 AM This is sad.
Lennard Fadlen Lennard Fadlen Saturday, July 19, 2014 1:31:51 AM stupid, you have to call even if your outside and your dying sad , stupid , and just stupid.
Stephen Procedo Stephen Procedo Saturday, July 19, 2014 7:58:10 AM I'm not happy to hear a veteran passed, but lets look at this a bit rationally. I'm not familiar with this facility at all, but the article states that the cafeteria is 500 yards from the main building. Five football fields. Now I know that distance isn't much, but if you think about how most code blue teams are set up this is a really big distance. They are teams that typically are comprised of people from multiple areas of the hospital all meeting up at the location of the code blue. They will usually grab the code cart on the floor they are heading to and not really bring much equipment. Now in this case there is a significant distance to cover, no code cart so now you're expecting this group to have all the gear they would need with them to run this code and oh guess what EMS would have still been called to get him over to the ED if they should get ROSC. Not seeing the code team hauling him 500 yards back to the ED and most certainly not going to use one of those big bulky hospital beds. Maybe we should back off the system is broke talk and instead suggest an AED be available. Quality CPR and an AED with a timely ALS service en route is the gold standard across this country. Lets work smarter, not harder.
Stephen Procedo Stephen Procedo Saturday, July 19, 2014 8:34:21 AM I agree with you completely, but I believe your post belongs somewhere else. Like where they're talking about Congressmen pay/insurance or term limits, kickbacks, pork-barrel....etc. Not here where there was nothing done wrong aside from maybe not having an AED available for that Air Force Medical unit to use while helping him.
John Murphy Jr John Murphy Jr Saturday, July 19, 2014 4:08:43 PM @ Stephen Procedo: I post where the questions are asked and it just happens to be

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