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What happened to the hospital’s telephone service?

SAH official says outage was not a ransomware attack
20190215-SAH winter-DT
Darren Taylor/SooToday

As if long waits in the emergency department weren’t enough, news of an outage affecting Sault Area Hospital’s telephone service had the community drawing a collective gasp on Sunday.

“This has nothing to do with a ransomware or malware attack,” said Sue Roger, SAH vice president of clinical operations and chief nursing executive, speaking to the SAH board of directors at its regular monthly meeting on Monday evening.

“In the past 24 hours, we have had a whole system downtime here in the organization related to Meditech access, and it is an issue with part of our electronic environment that provides routing to all our computer systems…it is a failure in our current technology,” Roger said. 

“We had a short downtime yesterday, came back online, and then the system failed again about two o’clock this morning.”

“We are not resolved across the organization yet, and there are small pockets of improvement. This means in the clinical departments, for example, in our laboratory services, only stat, urgent or timed tests can be done, so all our routine blood work had to be delayed today. They’ll be picked up tomorrow, some overnight possibly, but certainly that will bundle up two days into one tomorrow, and in the clinical departments, it means that there is reduced access to our medical directives, our medication administration records, and we worked all day today, frankly, to make sure that all of the tools that we can make available in the clinical areas on short notice and to carry us through have been deployed.”

“In some of our departments like renal where we have other documentation systems, they're untouched and not of any concern.”

“It’s been a good day and a not-so-good day, but we’ve managed through it and kudos to the information technology team that has been on site. Some of them have been here overnight and have worked all day trying to get us back up. It does make a busy day without a doubt,” Roger said.

Roger said SAH has a downtime procedure in place for what happened Sunday.

“All of our ORs proceeded as scheduled today. All our chemotherapy patients and radiation patients proceeded today and all of our outpatient clinics. We had a very low interruption in service, other than a delay.”

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Darren Taylor

About the Author: Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor is a news reporter and photographer in Sault Ste Marie. He regularly covers community events, political announcements and numerous board meetings. With a background in broadcast journalism, Darren has worked in the media since 1996.
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