Ransomware Closes DCH Hospitals In Tuscaloosa, Northport, and Fayette

Brent Wilson | October 1, 2019

All three hospitals of the DCH Health System in West Alabama were closed Tuesday to new patients due to a ransomware attack on their computer system.

The hospitals are located in Tuscaloosa, Northport and Fayette, AL.

In a statement published on their website, DCH said that they have experienced a ransomware attack and that a criminal is limiting their ability to use their computer systems. The attacker has demanded money but an exact amount was not given as of writing this.

“Our hospitals have implemented our emergency procedures to ensure safe and efficient operations in the event technology dependent on computers is not available,” the message stated. “That said, we feel it is in the best interest of patient safety that DCH Regional Medical Center, Northport Medical Center and Fayette Medical Center are closed to all but the most critical new patients. Our staff is caring for the patients who are currently in the hospital, and we have no plans to transfer current patients.”

Anyone scheduled for an outpatient procedure or test has been instructed to call before they come. Ambulances have been instructed to take patients to other hospitals if at all possible. Anyone brought to the hospital by ambulance will be transferred elsewhere once stabilized.

The message ended stating that they will continue to provide updates on their website, https://www.dchsystem.com/.

Ransomware attacks use encryption to make data inaccessible without a master password or key, making it nearly impossible for those under attack to unlock their data without giving in to the attacker.

Update: Oct. 2, 2019

DCH Health System is in the process of responding to a ransomware attack that has disrupted access to computer systems at DCH Regional Medical Center, Northport Medical Center and Fayette Medical Center. While prioritizing patient care and safety, we are investigating all options for swiftly and securely restoring our IT systems.

 Although the attack has impacted DCH’s ability to accept new patients, we are still able to provide critical medical services to those who need it. Patients who have non-emergency medical needs are encouraged to seek assistance from other providers while DCH works to restore our systems. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience or concern caused by this incident.

Upon discovery of the incident early on Oct. 1, we immediately implemented emergency procedures to continue providing safe and patient-centered care, and we initiated a comprehensive response that included coordination with law enforcement and engaging independent IT security and forensics experts who are working around the clock to help us understand and resolve this incident. While IT systems are down, medical staff have shifted operations into manual mode and are using paper copies in place of digital records to provide safe care to our patients.

At this time, we have no indication that any data has been misused or removed from our system. However, we are committed to completing a full forensic investigation following the resolution of this outage, and we will take all appropriate action in response to our findings.

Our staff of local doctors and nurses are responding to the community’s urgent needs and the needs of current patients in our hospitals. Rest assured, we are maintaining our high standards of care.

Some outpatient procedures are still being conducted at DCH hospitals. If a patient has a scheduled procedure or test at a DCH hospital, they should call the hospital or their healthcare provider to confirm the appointment.  DCH Home Health and DCH Home Medical Equipment are fully operational.

Update: Thursday, Oct. 3, 3:30 p.m.

DCH continues its efforts to recover from a cyberattack that began on Oct. 1. While the attack continues to impact DCH’s ability to accept new patients, we are still able to provide critical medical services to those who need it. Patients who have non-emergency medical needs are encouraged to seek assistance from other providers while DCH works to restore our systems.

Outpatient procedures and surgeries scheduled for Friday, Oct. 4 will continue as scheduled. If a patient has a scheduled procedure or test at a DCH hospital, they should call the hospital or their healthcare provider to confirm the appointment.

DCH Home Health and DCH Home Medical Equipment are fully operational.

We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience or concern caused by this incident.

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