VA secretary: Staff reacted properly to treat vet who died waiting for ambulance

Posted at: 07/18/2014 8:26 AM
By: Elizabeth Reed,

Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson visited Albuquerque on Thursday with high praise for the VA hospital's staff.

He said the staff "reacted properly" when a veteran collapsed in the hospital's cafeteria and later died.

Jim Napoleon Garcia, 71, waited half an hour for an ambulance to take him 500 yards away to the emergency room. He received CPR on the floor during that time.

"As I heard what they did and I stood there and looked at them in the eye, I was very proud. I'm very proud of what they did," Gibson said. "I've never had to do something like that and I can't imagine."

Democratic U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich responded to Gibson in a letter urging him to hire a permanent director for New Mexico's VA hospital.

Former director George Marnell announced his retirement earlier this year.