Nearly 2 Weeks In, Scripps Health Still Fighting Disruptive Cyberattack
Scripps Health officials are still trying to restore online systems after a cyberattack took the health care provider offline May 1.
Last week, the California Department of Public Health said the security breach was reported to them as ransomware — that is when hackers could be holding stolen information in exchange for a payment.
But this week Scripps Health President and CEO Chris Van Gorder described the situation as "a cyber security incident with malware placed on our information system."
When it was first reported on May 1, some Scripps hospitals had their emergency rooms on partial bypass, which has continued. Earlier in the week Sharp HealthCare and UC San Diego Health reported an increased in patients in their emergency rooms.
Scripps Health hospitals and urgent care centers are still open and doing procedures, but some appointments and operations are being postponed due to the cyberattack. Some patients, including those being treated for cancer, were transferred to UC San Diego Health earlier in the week.
In a Facebook post Wednesday addressing concerns from patients, Scripps said it has, "partnered with Quest Diagnostics and Labcorp to help provide laboratory services while we are working to restore our systems." The posting is encouraging those checking on the status of their appointments to contact providers directly, or call 1-800-SCRIPPS.
Patients requesting access to medical records are being told to mail inquiries to Scripps directly and per the social media posting during the outage outstanding bills, "will not default, be considered late, or sent to collections during this network outage." The posting said there will be 14 days after systems go live again for payments to be considered on-time.
In a memo to staff this week Van Gorder thanked employees for the extraordinary way they are caring for patients.
"Using our manual systems for a couple of hours is one thing — it’s another altogether to do it for days — but you are," per an emailed copy of the memo from a Scripps spokesperson.
Van Gorder added in the memo he strives for transparency.
"I will continue to do that but I want you (employees) to know this is a different kind of situation which limits what and when I can say things," he said in the memo. "We need to let our investigation proceed and work with our consultants and outside governmental agencies, and when I can share, I will."
Scripps also said there have been reports of some pharmacies not filling written prescriptions. There is no indication when systems could be fully restored.
"For our part we are in this battle, but our patients come first," Van Gorder said in the memo.