West Virginia hospitals address COVID-19 death count problems and tough finances

West Virginia

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — An audit by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources indicated that 165 people who died from coronavirus were not properly logged in the overall death count. Hospital leaders say they’re working to fix it and blame it on a paperwork delay.

“It’s looking more like it was just a gap in reporting because systematically we’ve done a great job across the state in reporting this. And the state’s process actually shows that it’s working; they’re double-checking,” said Jim Kaufman, President of West Virginia Hospital Association. “And we’re looking at where is that gap and making sure all of the forms are completed and submitted correctly.”

Health officials say other states have experienced similar accounting problems. They say it is simply due to human error, and they are working on getting a more accurate count.

“Right now it’s simply the way, you know we are calculating COVID-19 deaths and death reporting,” said Dr. Ayne Amjad, West Virginia Public Health Officer.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 is also putting a financial strain on hospitals. West Virginia hospitals alone are facing a $400 million shortfall.

“You may see hospitals either cut back programs, reduce or eliminate services, or unfortunately, you may see more hospital closures in the future because of our financial situation,” Kaufman said.

The most recent COVID-19 aid bill from Congress provides $8 billion for hospitals nationwide, but health care leaders say that is not enough.

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