Hospital still mum on ransomware attack

Grays Harbor Community Hospital officials are still unwilling to give out any details about the computer hack that has left the hospital and its clinics unable to access some of the district’s stored information for at least a month.

In a ransomware attack, hackers encrypt information so that the targeted organization can’t access it without paying for the encryption codes.

At the monthly hospital district commission meeting Tuesday night, the matter was only briefly discussed. Board Chairman Michael Bruce brought it up near the end of the meeting to say the district was following advice not to discuss the ongoing problems publicly.

“Nothing has changed in terms of patient care,” Bruce said. “We’re still seeing patients, surgeries are still going on and we’re still delivering babies.”

Bruce said they’ve been advised not to talk about it while an investigation continues.

Hospital CEO Tom Jensen said the hospital has insurance, but has been advised not to say anything for now.

It’s not clear when the problems started, but reports of issues first showed up in about the middle of June.

Many of the records normally entered directly into a computer now are being written out by hand. A district financial report given at the meeting indicated that because of the computer issues, financial statements for June weren’t as complete as usual. Jensen said after the meeting that payments to the hospital would still be coming in, but there might be a lag in accounting for them.

A major question will be whether or not patient information is no longer secure. Another question is whether the local medical community will be able to regain access to all the records they need for continued treatment.

One person in the audience said she just wants to know what’s going on with the hack and what information is compromised. “As a public entity, you’re required to give information to the public,” she said.