As the impact of the computer software virus that attacked the Erie County Medical Center continues to be felt long after the initial assault, it is heartening to see a couple of positive notes emerging.
One is the absolute resolve on the part of ECMC employees in tackling the crisis, which involved more than just rebuilding a complex computer system. The hospital’s doctors, nurses and support staff stepped up under difficult circumstances, returning to the old days of recording information with pen and paper.
The other positive note in a sea of difficulty is the admirable level of cooperation the hospital has received from expected and unexpected places. Meditech, the manufacturer of the hospital’s electronic health record software; GreyCastle Security, which provides cybersecurity services; and software giant Microsoft are working to resolve the crisis. The State Police and FBI have been investigating.
But proving that they are in this cybercrime fight together, the Catholic Health System, along with Kaleida Health, shared information systems specialists to help ECMC.
ECMC is part of the Great Lakes Health System with Kaleida and the University at Buffalo. Catholic Health is separate from ECMC. It could have stayed on the sidelines, but instead chose to engage with a competitor.
Hospital officials have said there is no indication that confidential patient information was compromised, nor any indication hospital data was lost. As reported in The News, information systems specialists have begun to return computers to work areas so that they can be used to view patient information posted before April 9. But the restored computers require a password, which hospital officials are keeping a tight grip on – only designated staff – until the entire network is back online.
Even then the job won’t be finished. All that work by hand that hospital staff has been devoting its time and effort to will have to be transferred into the electronic health database.
Meanwhile, it is good to know this: In the fight against cybercriminals, our local hospital systems stick together.