Computer issues force hospital to use paper documentation

Grays Harbor Community Hospital and Harbor Medical Group have been experiencing issues with their computer systems, serious enough that the hospital has gone into a “downtime protocol,” meaning staff are required to use paper documentation for some patients.

The hospital is open and offering its usual services safely, said Nancee Long, director of marketing and public relations for the hospital. The issues began Saturday and are hoped to be resolved within the week, Long said.

“The hospital remains open for business and will continue to treat patients with the same quality of care and professionalism,” wrote Long. “If you have questions about your care or an upcoming appointment, please contact the provider office with whom you are associated.”

There are two separate electronic medical record systems for the hospital and for Harbor Medical Group’s specialty clinics and rural health clinics, all of which are operated by Grays Harbor Public Hospital District 2. The hospital’s electronic medical records system, Meditech, is fully operational but is not communicating with other systems. As an example, Long said if a patient gets blood work, the results have to be called into the doctor.

Long said the clinics’ electronic record system was affected, and requires them to use a paper method of documentation. No employees have been sent home as a result of the computer issues, Long said.

“Some of the schedules are not available so they are accepting patients as they come and scheduling out patients with a paper process,” she wrote, adding that appointments can still be made through the paper process in the clinics, and that all hospital outpatient surgeries are still scheduled.

In order to safely treat patients, Long wrote that some patients may be asked to fill out paperwork regarding their past medical history and bring medications to their visit.

“This is not a deterrent to patient care,” wrote Long. “Offices have run without computers for years before now. It would be more of a problem to not see the patients who need care.”

The hospital is working with its information technology vendor to fix the problem, Long noted.