A leaked Zoom call between doctors and marketing staff at Novant Health New Hanover Regional Medical Center in North Carolina has gone viral. It shows staff plotting to “scare” the public with inflated COVID numbers. “I guess my feeling at this point and time is maybe we need to be completely a little bit more scary [sic] to the public,” says Dr. Mary Rudyk, who served as the former chief of medical staff. “There are many people still hospitalized that we are considering post-covid but we’re not counting in those numbers, so how do we include those post-covid people in the numbers of the patients we have in the hospital?”
“We’re calling them recovered now,” replies an unidentified staff member. “From our standpoint, we would still consider them a COVID patient because they’re still healing. We can talk offline on how we run it up to marketing.”
“I think we have to be more blunt, we have to be more forceful,” says Rudyk.
“If you don’t get vaccinated you know you’re gonna die. Let’s just be really blunt to these people,” she continues, scoffing at vaccine-hesitant people.
Senior doctors discuss inflating COVID numbers by counting recovered patients as active COVID patients.
"We need to be more scary to the public. If you don't get vaccinated, you know you're going to die."pic.twitter.com/KVDIbUq9ZV
— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) September 12, 2021
The hospital issued a statement in response to the video that local station WRAL called a “debunking.”
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. Specifically, the data we have been sharing does not include patients who remain hospitalized for COVID-19 complications even though they are no longer COVID-19 positive, so it does not provide a complete picture of the total impact of COVID-19 on our patients and on our hospitals. 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.
It is unclear how this statement “debunks” the video, which shows staff members discussing how to inflate COVID numbers to “scare” the public. They very clearly talk about adding recovered COVID patients to the COVID hospitalization numbers in order to be “more scary.” The fact that the hospital has not done this does not change the fact that their staff talked about doing it.
If the hospital is concerned about spreading misinformation, perhaps it should discipline the employees that actively plotted to spread misinformation about the numbers of people suffering from COVID in the hospital. Is there anyone who thinks recovered patients, even if they haven’t been released from the hospital yet, should be included in current hospitalization numbers?