10:00am: Talkline with Hoppy Kercheval

Princeton hospital to replace 12-hundred computer hard drives after cyber attack

PRINCETON, W.Va. — The Princeton Community Hospital in Mercer County will have to replace nearly 1,200 hard drives on computers that were hacked earlier this week.

“As a precaution to prevent any potential computer reinfection, the hospital is rebuilding its entire computer network from scratch,” said Rose Morgan, vice president of patient care services at the hospital.

The world-wide ransomware attack occurred at the hospital Tuesday. Hospitals workers turned on their computers and were greeted with a message that read, in part, “If you see this text, then your files are no longer accessible, because they have been encrypted.”

The exact source of the attack has not been confirmed.

Morgan said vital patient information was not obtained by the hackers. Employees were able to retrieve patient information from four computers.

“All of our computer data seem to be in tact,” Morgan said. “There’s no evidence that any personal data or information was transferred from our system, however we are unable to access our electronic medical record.”

“We are unable to actually document in the system at this time,” she continued. “But we’re able to look at important information like allergies, medications, past medical history, things like that.”

Hospital workers have been forced to turn to all-paper for the time being. There’s no word when the computers will be back up and running.

“We’re looking at probably throughout the next week that we will be working on this issue to get us fully restored,” Morgan said.

Morgan called the attack “surprising” because the hospital made sure to put all the protections in place to prevent cyber attacks. She said the attack just goes to show that no organization is completely immune to computer viruses.

“I think even the most prepared organizations can suffer from an unexpected cyber attack such as this,” she said.

The best way to prepare for a similar situation, Morgan said, is to educate employees and run drills.

The Princeton hospital emergency room was on yellow alert as of Thursday afternoon to alert the public some procedures are being slowed down.

Two other West Virginia medical facilities were recently hit by ransomware demands including Appalachian Regional Hospital in Beckley and Morgantown’s Ruby Memorial Hospital.

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