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Local facilities respond to DHHR list

ELKINS — Several local health facilities have responded to being included in the state Department of Health and Human Resources list, released earlier this week, which claims 165 COVID-19 related deaths had occurred at the facilities on the list but were not properly reported to the state.

A total of 70 facilities were originally included on the DHHR list, including Davis Medical Center in Elkins, where the list claims two of the deaths occurred; Elkins Rehabilitation and Care Center, where one of the deaths allegedly occurred; and Grant Rehabilitation and Care Center in Grant County, where one of the deaths allegedly happened.

“These reporting protocols were established early in the pandemic and we’ve continued to remind facilities of these requirements,” said Dr. Ayne Amjad, State Health Officer and Commissioner for DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health. “This practice is totally unacceptable, and these facilities must do better for the people of West Virginia.”

The vast majority (84%) of these deaths were from December 2020 and January 2021, which fits the standard timeframe in death certificate reporting, a DHHR press release states.

The Elkins Rehabilitation & Care Center has provided the following response to the DHHR’s list:

“In a press release from the West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources (DHHR) dated March 10, 2021, Elkins Rehabilitation & Care Center (ERCC) was wrongfully included in a list of facilities that did not report COVID-19 deaths,” the ERCC press statement reads.

“ERCC reported the COVID-19 death to the Randolph County Health Department on February 11, as is required. That information was also reported to the West Virginia DHHR on February 12.”

The DHHR acknowledged on Friday that three of the alleged deaths in the original list, released Wednesday, have been investigated and removed from the list. Wayne Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and Beckley Medical Center have now been removed from the list of facilities involved.

“DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health will be investigating each instance of non-reported deaths to determine what occurred,” a Friday DHHR press release stated.

Davis Medical Center provided the following response to being included on the DHHR list:

“Jim Kaufman, President and CEO of the West Virginia Hospital Association (WVHA), provides the following statement regarding the unreported COVID-19 related deaths by hospitals:

“Like others in West Virginia, today we learned of unreported COVID-19 related deaths by hospitals and other facilities across the State. It is unfortunate that this reporting error occurred during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in December and January.

“The process the State has put in place that led to today’s announcement demonstrates the close partnership between the state and hospitals in responding to this pandemic. Today’s announcement provides an important opportunity to ensure accurate reporting in the future.

“We thank our healthcare workers for their hard work and express sympathy to the families who have lost loved ones during the pandemic.”

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