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IT 'security event' at Tallahassee Memorial postpones procedures and diverts EMS patients

 TMH is working to address an IT security threat
Patrick Sternad
WFSU Public Media
Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare has been working to address an IT "security event."

The hospital said IT teams were making progress in managing the problem, but an investigation was ongoing to determine “exactly what happened" that led to taking systems offline.

Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare has canceled elective surgeries through Monday and diverted some emergency patients as it continues to work through an online IT “security event.”

The health system said the issue began affecting its systems late Thursday and forced the hospital to shut down its IT network. After that, nonemergency procedures were halted and EMS diversions began.

On Sunday, the health system said information technology teams were making progress in managing the problem, but an investigation was ongoing to determine “exactly what happened.” The system said it was working with law enforcement on the issue.

“Our teams are working around the clock in collaboration with outside consultants to investigate the cause of the event and safely restore all computer systems as quickly as possible,” the hospital said Sunday in a Facebook update.

The health system said its physician partners’ practices are operational and will see patients as scheduled Monday.

As of Sunday, some emergency patients were still be diverted. On Saturday, the hospital said it was accepting only Level 1 trauma and heart attack patients from the immediate Tallahassee area.

Patients requiring labor and delivery care were being cared for and triaged at the women’s pavilion.

The system said it is not moving patients currently in the hospital to other facilities. Hospital employees are able to safely care for those patients and are following procedures that allow them to continue that care while their IT systems are offline.

The system has been forced to use paper documentation since the system was taken down.

“We practice for situations like this, and we are prepared to provide safe, high-quality care to our patients during computer system downtimes,” the health system said.

On Friday, a statement from the hospital said its IT department was testing online systems and bringing them back online "one-by-one."

Patients will be contacted directly if their appointments are affected, spokeswoman Tori Lynn Schneider said in a statement.

The hospital is providing updates on its website.

The hospital, headquartered in Tallahassee, provides health care across 21 counties in northern Florida and southern Georgia, according to its website.

Cybersecurity firm Emsisoft said there were 25 ransomware attacks involving hospitals or hospital systems last year.

Information from the Associated Press, WFSU’s Regan McCarthy and Health News Florida’s Rick Mayer was used in this report.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.