Kemptville District Hospital was forced to close its Emergency Department and put outpatient x-rays and ultrasounds on hold last Thursday, after being hit by what is being called a “cybersecurity incident”. The problem began on Wednesday, when problems were detected in the hospital’s IT system, and by Thursday morning it had been decided, according to hospital sources “that it would not be possible to provide the highest quality and safe patient care in the Emergency Department in the absence of I.T. systems”.
Although day surgeries and total joint replacements continued, there were delays caused by patient registrations having to be performed manually, on paper, instead of by computer. The OPP’s Cyber Crime Unit was called into the hospital on Wednesday, when the breach was detected, and their investigation was described as “ongoing” over the weekend. The hospital operated under a “Code Grey”, which is declared when a hospital is dealing with a loss of essential services.
As the incident progressed, emergency calls and services were taken over by other hospitals, and KDH CEO, Frank Vassallo, expressed his gratitude for their support. “We are grateful to our hospital partners for their eagerness to be part of this solution. It enables us to fulfill our mandate of providing emergency care to residents of North Grenville and beyond.”
By Friday, hospital authorities were able to reopen its Emergency Department, although the IT problem had not been resolved, and KDH continued to operate under “Code Grey”. Cybersecurity experts were working with KDH over the weekend to contain the incident and were running diagnostics to evaluate the full scope of the situation. The Ministry of Health and the Municipality of North Grenville are being kept updated on the progress of the investigation and the steps being taken to restore the hospital’s IT system. The process will take time, as every precaution has to be taken to ensure there is no residual glitch or any possible virus remaining in the system.
“In terms of resolution and path to recovery, it is still too early to make a fair assessment. We hope to have further clarity around the magnitude of the event and potential in-house resolutions in the next few days”, said Marcus Hewitt, KDH’s VP Finance and Chief Operating Officer.
As the investigation continues into this “incident”, CEO Vassallo asked the public to bear with the delays while the problem is resolved. “We thank everyone involved for their patience while we are working very hard to restore our systems and services”, said Frank Vassallo. A hospital statement assured the public that: “KDH will work diligently to manage this situation in a responsible manner and to communicate as much information as possible to the public, patients, employees, and other interested parties as the situation evolves”.