Novant responds to leaked internal discussion of COVID-19 numbers

Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Novant has responded after a video of an internal discussion about how one of its hospitals reports COVID-19 patient numbers was leaked on social media, WECT reported Sept. 10. 

The two-minute video begins with the director of marketing at Wilmington, N.C.-based New Hanover Regional Medical explaining what COVID-19 numbers the hospital provides, including the percentage of unvaccinated hospitalizations. Mary Rudyk, MD, who formerly served as chief of medical staff, then proposed including "post-COVID" patients in the case count, according to the report. 

"... I think those are important numbers — the patients are still in the hospital, that are off the COVID floor, but are still occupying the hospital for a variety of reasons," Dr. Rudyk said, according to the report. 

The video ends with Dr. Rudyk calling for changes to the hospital's messaging strategy regarding COVID-19 vaccinations. 

"I think we have to be more blunt, we have to be more forceful, we have to say something coming out, 'you know you don't get vaccinated, you know you're going to die.' I mean, let’s just be really blunt to these people."

Regarding the leaked discussion, Novant Health issued the following statement to WECT

"The team members involved in this excerpt of an internal meeting are seeing the highest level of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths so far in this pandemic — despite having safe and effective vaccines widely available. This was a frank discussion among medical and communications professionals on how we can more accurately convey the severity and seriousness of what's happening inside of our hospitals and throughout our communities."

The health system further noted that the data shared does not provide a complete picture of the impact of COVID-19 on its hospitals because it doesn't include patients who remain hospitalized for COVID-19 complications if they are no longer COVID-19 positive. 

"We continue to be concerned with the amount of misinformation in our communities and consistently strive for more ways to be transparent and tell the whole story. The continued rise of hospitalizations makes it evident that we have more work to do to reach our communities with these messages," Novant said, according to the report. 

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