A 71-year-old military veteran died last Monday after he collapsed in the cafeteria of an Albuquerque VA hospital, and had to wait 14 minutes for an ambulance to take him to the emergency room.
The emergency room was only a four minute walk away, a local ABC affiliate reports.
Staff at the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center said they followed a policy that says if a medical emergency occurs outside the main hospital, personnel first must call 911.
VA officials told the man's family that he collapsed at 12:19 p.m., and began performing CPR. The Albuquerque Fire Department said they dispatched a rescue unit at 12:26 p.m, which arrived at the hospital at 12:33 p.m.
Albuquerque ambulance told ABC that their paramedics arrived at 12:39 p.m, meaning that almost 14 minutes passed from the time the man collapsed to when the medics arrived at the scene.
The man's family asked to stay anonymous because they are considering legal action.
Paramedics then drove the man about 500 yards to the ER in the same facility. By the time the man arrived at the hospital, it was too late to save him.
An ER spokesperson said that they are "currently reviewing our policy."
The policy is a local one, the AP reports, but the death comes months after a healthcare controversy within the VA system in which dozens of facilities altered their records to cover up treatment delays.
Vietnam veteran Lorenzo Calbert told the Associated Press it was a shame the man had to die so close to the hospital.
"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."