A doctor in a leaked video told colleagues that their North Carolina hospital's COVID-19 messaging needs to be "more scary for the public" — and even should go so far as to tell people "you don't get vaccinated, you know you're gonna die."
Dr. Mary Rudyk also proposed to colleagues in the Novant Health New Hanover Regional Medical Center internal video that "post-COVID" patients — those who test negative for the virus after initially testing positive — should be included in the hospital's COVID-19 case count, WECT-TV reported.
What are the details?
The leaked video starts with Carolyn Fisher, director of marketing, going over what information the Wilmington hospital provides in regard to COVID-19 numbers — and mentioning the percentage of unvaccinated hospitalizations, the station said.
Rudyk — who previously served as NHRMC's chief of medical staff, WECT noted — then said the hospital's COVID-19 messaging needs to be "completely a little bit more scary for the public."
Image source: YouTube screenshot
Rudyk also asked how the hospital could include "post-COVID" patients in its overall COVID-19 case count: "I think those are important numbers — the patients that are ... off the COVID floor but still are occupying the hospital for a variety of reasons."
Shelbourn Stevens — named president of NHRMC and the Coastal market earlier this year — noted that patients initially hospitalized with COVID-19 but who no longer test positive for the virus are considered "recovered" and are removed from the hospital's COVID-19 patient count, WECT reported.
"But I do think, from our standpoint, we would still consider them a COVID patient because they're still healing," Stevens added before telling Fisher that he could speak to her "offline" in regard to "how we run that up to marketing."
The partial video ends with Rudyk saying, "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 gonna die.' I mean, let's just be really blunt to these people."
What did the hospital have to say?
A Novant Health spokesperson issued the following statement to WECT in regard to the leaked video:
"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."
Doctors debate marketing for #covid19vaccine youtu.be
How did observers react?
Numerous commenters on a Facebook post from the hospital encouraging people to schedule their COVID-19 shots were livid:
- "I just watched a video where your staff basically said we need to lie and skew the numbers of COVID patients so that you can scare people and tell them to get vaccinated or they will die," one commenter wrote. "I'd sure like to know where the money passes. Lying and trying to scare people? Why would anybody want to trust your hospital."
- "Hey, NHRMC....what's up with this? Stoking fear much? Inflating numbers?" another commenter asked. "We are ALL awake now......your time is coming!"
- "You have broken trust… who can believe you?" another commenter wondered.
- "Caught setting up more lies with your own video and trying to deny it to demonize the unvaccinated," another commenter noted. "You are the garbage that is ruining this country. Keep inflating numbers because no one is buying it."
- "The mere fact that some in your ranks are plotting to inflate the data in order to 'scare' the public causes me to wonder how much more, behind the scenes, fraud occurs at your facility," another commenter said. "Congratulations on going viral though."