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Veterans Affairs secretary to visit New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson is scheduled to visit the Veterans Affairs hospital in Albuquerque as New Mexico’s system works to whittle down its patient waiting list.

Gibson is expected Thursday to meet with hospital staff and officials to discuss ways the hospital can improve care amid a national outcry over treatment delays and patient deaths.

Last week, the New Mexico’s congressional delegation sent Gibson a letter expressing concern over the handling of a veteran’s death in the hospital’s cafeteria.

Dispatch tapes revealed 71-year-old Jim Napoleon Garcia was on the floor as an ambulance was called to take him to an emergency room 500 yards away.

The latest audit shows there were 482 veterans on the state’s electronic waiting list, down from more than 1,040 a month ago.