A leaked video of a virtual meeting reveals doctors and hospital executives discussing how to inflate their Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) case numbers to scare people into getting vaccinated.

The meeting was between several doctors and hospital executives, including a marketing director, at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, a health network of 20 hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities in North Carolina and South Carolina. New Hanover is owned by Novant Health, a health system that operates over a hundred healthcare facilities in four states.

In the video, Dr. Mary Kathryn Rudyk is asking Carolyn Fisher, New Hanover’s director of marketing, and another still unidentified hospital employee how to make the hospitals more “scary to the public.”

Rudyk wants this to be done by inflating the number of COVID-19 patients the hospitals actually have. She believes this will scare people into getting vaccinated as it falsely tells unvaccinated people that they will die if they do not get the vaccine.

“I think we have to be more blunt, we have to be more forceful,” said Rudyk. “We have to say something coming out – if you don’t get vaccinated, you know you are going to die. Let’s just be really blunt to these people.” 

Doctor wants hospital to list recovered and non-COVID patients as coronavirus cases

The video begins with Fisher explaining how her department is attempting to communicate “meaningful numbers” to the public. These numbers include the supposed percentages of COVID-19 patients that are vaccinated and unvaccinated, and the supposed number of deaths in New Hanover’s intensive care units.

Rudyk then asked the marketing director how post-COVID cases can be included in the number of people that are hospitalized for COVID-19.

“My feeling at this point in time is that maybe we need to be completely a little bit more scary for the public,” said Rudyk. She then suggested that the hospital count all patients in the hospital as COVID-19 patients.

“There are many people still hospitalized that we’re considering post-COVID, but we are not counting in those numbers, so how do we include those post-COVID people in the numbers of patients we have in the hospital?” she continued. “I think those are important numbers: The patients that are still in the hospital, that are off the COVID floor, but still are occupying the hospital for a variety of reasons.”

Shelbourn Stevens, president of New Hanover Regional Medical Center, agreed. He said post-COVID patients are currently classified as “recovered.”

“But I do think, from our standpoint, we would still consider them a COVID patient because they’re still healing,” said Stevens.

Rudyk said she believes those recovered COVID-19 patients also need to be highlighted. “Because once they’re off isolation, they drop from the COVID numbers.”

Stevens ended the conversation by saying he and Rudyk can talk offline later about “how we can run that up to marketing.”

Novant Health claims misinformation responsible for ongoing pandemic

When reached for comment by local media outlets, Novant Health issued a statement defending the doctors and hospital executives trying to inflate New Hanover’s COVID-19 numbers.

“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,” read the statement. “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,” the statement continued.

Novant Health ended its statement by claiming that it wants to inflate the numbers because of so-called COVID-19 misinformation. The health system claimed this so-called misinformation is what is keeping communities from recovering fully.

“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,” said Novant Health. “The continued rise of hospitalizations makes it evident that we have more work to do to reach our communities with these messages.”

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