Officials: Hospital prepared for disasters

Great Plains Health goes into action whenever there is a threat of severe weather. The action plan is already in place and the leadership and staff know their responsibilities as they are prepared to ensure the safety of their patients and staff in all situations.

Ransomware shut down Great Plains Health information systems Monday evening, hospital officials said.

About 7 p.m. Monday, the problem was detected and the GPH information systems team worked through the night to minimize the impact to local health services as much as possible, according to a post on GPH’s Facebook page.

“We are confident that patient information was not breached in any way,” CEO Mel McNea said in the post. “We will however, do a full audit to further investigate.”

The Facebook post explains: “Ransomware is a type of malicious software, or malware, designed to deny access to computer systems. Essentially, encrypted information criminally enters the system and creates obstacles for health system staff members to access parts of the hospital network. In some cases, this inhibits the ability to care for patients.”

With weather-related problems in addition to some systems being affected by the ransomware violation, GPHealth is canceling many non-emergent patient appointment and procedures today, GPH posted. Surgeries and select imaging procedures will continue as scheduled. Patients whose appointments are being canceled are being contacted by phone. All other scheduled patients should plan to come in, weather permitting. The hospital is continuing in normal operations.

“Great Plains Health retains year-round cybersecurity to continuously safeguard against attacks,” according to the Facebook post. “This is not just a local incident, but happens nationwide. In 2019 alone, there have been 140 reported attacks targeting state and local governments and health care providers, according to the cybersecurity firm Recorded Future.”

As more information is made available, GPHealth said, it will release it through local and social media.

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