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Vermont Hospital System Still Feeling Cyberattack Effects

The University of Vermont Health Network's set of component hospitals are still continuing to feel the lingering effects of a cyberattack one week after the incident initially took place there.

by Cara Chapman, The Press-Republican / November 5, 2020
Shutterstock/vs148

(TNS) — The University of Vermont Health Network's component hospitals continued to feel the effects of a cyberattack a week after it initially hit.

In an emailed community update Tuesday, President and CEO Dr.  John R. Brumsted  said the organization's teams were getting "a much firmer handle on the scope and complexity of this situation," and that it would take more time to work through those issues.

Priority was given to systems critical to patient care.

"But it's important for our patients and communities to know that this won't be like flipping a light switch, and we don't yet have a firm time frame for system restoration," Brumsted added.

"Based on our consultations with other health care institutions that have been through this, it's clear that every event is different."

UNDER INVESTIGATION

The cyberattack on some of UVM Health Network's systems, which took place Oct. 28, appeared to be part of a larger cybercrime effort that targeted the United States' health care and public health sectors.

The organization was working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Vermont Department of Public Safety to investigate, and had developed a webpage that shows facility-specific information: UVMHealth.org/cyberattack.

As of Tuesday afternoon, major systems were operational and all patient care services were available at the hospitals on this side of the lake: Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital in PlattsburghAlice Hyde Medical Center in Malone and Elizabethtown Community Hospital in Elizabethtown.

Added safeguards were put in place to protect the facilities' systems from external threats. These measures do not affect patients' experiences, according to updates from all three institutions as of Wednesday.

DELAYS, DISRUPTIONS

CVPH's physician services were relying on computer downtime procedures, including paper methods to communicate and care for patients. Slight delays were noted.

Alice Hyde's Hospital  Patient Portal  was down and inaccessible to patients until further notice, while the Physician Practice  Patient Portal  remained accessible, the Malone facility's update said.

Electronic communication between Alice Hyde and UVM Medical Center as well as ECH and UVM Medical Center was disrupted by the outage. The three facilities were working together to address those issues.

DIFFICULT YEAR

Brumsted said the network was trying to work quickly and carefully to ensure its systems run correctly and securely when they are brought back online.

He noted component facilities have coordinated to find solutions to the problems presented by the cyberattack, such as how ECH has accepted inpatient transfers from CVPH.

"This cyberattack is the latest chapter in what's been an incredibly difficult year for our region and for our health system," Brumsted said.

"I ask for — and very much appreciate — your ongoing support, partnership and patience as we work through these challenges. I can promise you that we will continue to tap into every resource available to resolve these issues, and we will keep you updated as we make progress."

(c)2020 the Press-Republican (Plattsburgh, N.Y.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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