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Navicent still not publicly releasing number of COVID-19 patients

Half a dozen other Central Georgia hospitals are now publicly reporting at least some information on virus testing and hospitalization.

MACON, Ga. — 13WMAZ continues to ask some of Central Georgia's largest hospital systems to release COVID-19 statistics, like how many patients are hospitalized and how many have tested positive.

As Governor Kemp, Vice President Pence, and others have said, numbers like those help the people understand the scope of the problem and prepare better for what may be to come.

After initially declining our requests, Houston Healthcare changed course and provided much of that information to us Monday. They are now publicly releasing the information daily.

In total, at least half a dozen Central Georgia hospitals are now reporting some of these statistics.

Despite multiple requests to release the information, The Medical Center, Navicent Health still is not one of them.

When we first asked for COVID-19 stats several weeks ago, like how many people in Medical Center Navicent Health's care had tested positive and how many had been hospitalized, the health system declined, saying the information might lead to patients being "stigmatized."

"We are committed to protecting the privacy of all patients who have been tested for COVID-19, whether or not the test results are positive. As these patients recover and return to society, we want to ensure they are not stigmatized," said a release from the hospital system at the time.

State Representative Dale Washburn says a group of legislators recently got a similar response when they asked their own questions

"That was puzzling to me somewhat because no one was asking for names of patients, we were just asking for the numbers of patients," he said.

Since our first request for Navicent to release this information to the public, Vice President Mike Pence has asked all of the nation's hospitals to give daily reports to the CDC on their number of confirmed and suspected COVID-19 cases and on how many beds and ventilators are available.

"We remind every governor and every laboratory and hospital in the country it is imperative that you continue to report daily to the CDC the results of those tests," he said at a press conference.

With that in mind, we again asked Navicent to share some of that information with the public as well and invited them for an on-camera interview.

Again, Navicent declined. Their public relations manager, Megan Allen, responded by email, saying, "Navicent Health is reporting this data to the appropriate authorities, through the proper channels, in compliance with the Vice President's request."

She did not address our request for an interview.

A growing list of Central Georgia hospitals is now releasing at least some of these statistics to the public.

The list includes:

  • Houston Medical Center
  • Coliseum Health System
  • Perry Hospital
  • Crisp Regional Hospital
  • Dodge County Hospital
  • Fairview Park Hospital

State Representative Robert Dickey says he's generally happy with how Navicent has handled COVID-19, but doesn't understand why they won't release those facts.

"I think If the rest of them are sharing it and don't see any major issues with it, I don't know why Navicent shouldn't be doing that as well," he said.

Megan Allen said in another email the state Department of Public Health would be posting hospital-specific data online in the coming days, but so far, that has not happened.

That's not to say it won't happen. Though the North Central Health District says they're not aware of any change to the public reporting procedure, they noted sometimes those changes are made at state headquarters without notifying district offices.

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FACTS NOT FEAR | At 13WMAZ, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the coronavirus. To see our full coverage, visit our site section here: www.13wmaz.com/Coronavirus.

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