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Hospital Operations Back to Normal After Paying Ransom

Ten days after a ransomware attack forced DCH Health Systems offline, officials announced that their hospitals are resuming normal operations. An undisclosed amount was paid to obtain a decryption key.

(TNS) — DCH Health System hospitals are back to normal operations 10 days after a ransomware attack crippled their computer systems, system Chief Operating Officer Paul Betz said Thursday.

"Today, DCH lifted the diversion protocols for our three hospitals and are taking patients in our emergency departments," Betz said at a press conference. "At this time, all hospital services are open."

"We appreciate the understanding of our community and are especially grateful for the hard work of our staff to get us through this incident."

All essential electronic systems related to patient care have been restored, he said. The system's IT department is continuing to restore non-essential systems, such as email, while working to restore to full speed and functionality, Betz said.

The system announced Oct. 5 that a payment had been made to obtain the decryption key that would allow access back into the system. Betz didn't say how much had been paid, but he did say the hospital system has cyber insurance.

"We had to gain access to our system quickly and gain the information it was blocking," he said. "As time goes by, and we determine the full impact of this, we will be very grateful we had cyber insurance in place."

A forensic investigation will determine how the system was attacked, Betz said. The findings will steer any future policies and procedures to increase security going forward.

Staff used a paper record-keeping system while all but the most critical patients were diverted to other hospitals. Some elective surgeries and other procedures went on as scheduled.

"Although it was a very trying time, I walk away from this incident being very proud of how our staff reacted in keeping our patients safe and well-taken care of."

©2019 The Tuscaloosa News, Ala. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.