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Ascension St. Vincent affected by cyber attack to its network

Hospitals may have to divert some patients due to hack
ascension st vincent.jpg
Posted at 7:46 PM, May 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-14 19:46:57-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The Ascension health care network is dealing with a cybersecurity attack to hospitals in at least eleven states, including the Ascension St. Vincent hospitals in Indiana.

In a series of statements, Ascension reports it noticed unusual activity on its network starting on May 8. Ascension reports it has worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to investigate the hack.

Ascension outlined all of the cyber attack's effects on Indiana with a web site. Complications include:

  • Ascension pharmacies can not fill orders until further notice
  • Wait times may increase due to using paper instead of computers for documentation
  • Certain hospitals may use diversion with ambulance patients, which is bypassing an Ascension hospital for another facility

In its latest statement published Monday, an Ascension spokesperson said the healthcare is making progress in restoring its network, but "it will take time to return to normal operations."
Santiago Torres-Arias, a professor at Purdue University's Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security, said cybersecurity hacks have become more common at hospitals because of the types of patient data they store in their servers.

"This information is like gold," Torres-Arias said. "I believe that after 2020 when we started moving into the digital space for everyday operations, we also had to start opening our infrastructure not only to the hospital, but to other parts of the digital world."

Johnson Memorial Health in Franklin was victim to a similar ransomware hack in 2021.

Its president, Dr. David Dunkle, said the group is still recovering from it three years later.

"We've had to dip into savings," Dunkle said. "In 2021, we were really heading towards one of the best years we've had in the history of the organization, and the cyberattack brought that to a screeching halt."

Dunkle hopes Ascension learns from Johnson Memorial Health's experience and takes even more measures to protect its networks after the hack.

"We can see all of the attempts people make on a daily basis trying to get into our system," Dunkle said. "You can't be vigilant enough. All it takes is one bad click."