ASHTABULA — Ashtabula County Medical Center has spent two weeks offline after being hit by an apparent cyberattack. The computer systems were still down Wednesday, hospital officials said.

The hospital began experiencing a technical disruption to computer systems the week of Sept. 21, and immediately implemented downtime procedures.

“Our first priority is always the safety of our patients and caregivers,” President and CEO Michael J. Habowski has said repeatedly throughout the ordeal. “The disruption did not impact our ability to safely care for our patients.”

ACMC never stopped providing patient care, though services in some areas of the hospital and doctors’ offices are limited.

“We are working with independent technology experts to bring systems back online as quickly as possible,” Habowski said.

The hospital also has a team on-call for emergency surgeries.

The outage affects the hospital’s five family health centers, where doctors and nurses have no access to computers, so they can not see a patient’s lab work, prescriptions or health history.

“We appreciate our caregivers’ commitment to caring for our community and the support of our patients,” Habowski said. 

Modern hospitals are highly computerized; computers are the repositories of patient records, they keep track of drug doses, they issue patient bills. That makes hospitals particularly prone to criminal hackers.

Last week, NBC News reported on ACMC, quoting a cybersecurity expert who said the attack appeared to stem from ransomware, which is a type of malicious software that criminal hackers use to encrypt files and shut down computers.

The hackers demand money to restore computers.


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