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Hospitals In Multiple States Forced To Divert Patients From Emergency Rooms And Reroute Ambulances Due To Cyberattack


A cyberattack on a Tennessee-based healthcare company has forced hospitals in six states to divert patients from some of its emergency rooms and reroute ambulances.

According to reports, Ardent Health Services experienced a ransomware attack on November 23rd that caused the health care chain to take its network offline.

Ardent operates approximately 30 hospitals in six states, the Associated Press reports.

“Ardent proactively took its network offline, suspending all user access to its information technology applications, including corporate servers, Epic software, internet and clinical programs,” Ardent Health Services said in a statement.

“In the interim, while this incident results in temporary disruption to certain aspects of Ardent’s clinical and financial operations, patient care continues to be delivered safely and effectively in its hospitals, emergency rooms, and clinics,” the statement continued.

“In an abundance of caution, our facilities are rescheduling some non-emergent, elective procedures and diverting some emergency room patients to other area hospitals until systems are back online,” it added.

The Associated Press reports:

By Tuesday afternoon, more than half of Ardent’s 25 emergency rooms had resumed accepting some patients by ambulance or by fully lifting their “divert” status, Ardent spokesperson Will Roberts said. Divert status means hospitals have asked ambulances to take people needing emergency care to other nearby facilities. Roberts said hospitals nationwide have at times used divert status during flu season, COVID-19 surges, natural disasters and large trauma events.

The company said it could not yet confirm the extent of any compromised patient health or financial information. It reported the issue to law enforcement and retained third-party forensic and threat intelligence advisers, while working with cybersecurity specialists to restore IT functions as quickly as possible. There was no immediate timeline for resolving the problems.

Based in the Nashville, Tennessee, suburb of Brentwood, Ardent owns and operates 30 hospitals and more than 200 care sites with upwards of 1,400 aligned providers in Oklahoma, Texas, New Jersey, New Mexico, Idaho and Kansas.

WATCH:

Per CNN:

A nurse working at one of the affected New Jersey hospitals told CNN that staff rushed “to print out as much patient information as we could” as it became clear that the hospital was shutting down networks because of the hacking incident.

“We are doing everything on paper,” said the nurse, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.

“Everything becomes a lot slower,” the nurse said, referring to the reliance on paper, rather than computers, to track things like lab work for patients. “We drill on that a few times a year, but it still sucks.”

Chiara Marababol, a spokesperson for two New Jersey hospitals – Mountainside Medical Center and Pascack Valley Medical Center – affected by the hack, said the hospitals continue to care for patients in emergency rooms.

“[H]owever, we have asked our local EMS systems to temporarily divert patients in need of emergency care to other area facilities while we address our system issues,” Marababol told CNN in an email.



 

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