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Mass. hospital still dealing with cyberattack

Anna Jaques Hospital, in Newburyport, had to divert ambulances after a crippling cyberattack


Anna Jaques Hospital/George Disario/Facebook

By Jim Sullivan
The Daily News of Newburyport

NEWBURYPORT, Mass. — More than a week after a cyberattack crippled the health records system at Anna Jaques Hospital, efforts to return services to where they were before the incident remain ongoing, according to a hospital spokesperson.

At the height of the crisis, which is now being investigated by the FBI , Anna Jaques Hospital staff were turning away ambulance crews from delivering patients to its emergency department and diverting them to area hospitals.

Service resumed on the afternoon of Dec. 26, according to a hospital spokesperson, who added that the environment was immediately secured and cybersecurity professionals were brought in to assist the investigation.

On Tuesday, the same hospital spokesperson said in an email that Anna Jaques has restored key systems following the apparent cyberattack and continues to meet significant milestones in its information technology recovery efforts.

“The hospital remains fully operational and we continue to provide safe and effective patient care,” the spokesperson said. “We are grateful for our team’s hard work and the support of our community to restore the functionality of our system as quickly and securely as possible. We continue to ensure that patient care and safety remain our highest priority.”

The spokesperson said the hospital also contacted the FBI as part of its own investigation of the incident and will continue to work with external cybersecurity professionals.

Newburyport Mayor Sean Reardon said he was informed on Christmas that the hospital’s electronic health record system was down and staff were diverting ambulances to other facilities.

The union representing hospital nurses sent a long list of questions to hospital administrators following the cyberattack, asking how important information would be processed and what steps would be taken to ensure there would be enough staff on hand to meet patients’ needs.

The union also sent a memo, highlighting its concerns after the cyberattack to the Department of Public Health.

“Management has been trying to fix the problem, but management has told staff that there is not yet an end in sight, and they cannot estimate how many days it will be before restoration will be achieved,” the letter reads.

Nurses at the hospital has spent the balance of 2023 speaking up about what they consider poor working conditions there as their contract ended at the end of the year.

Ward 6 Councilor Byron Lane, who has long been an advocate for hospital nurses, said it sounded like the hospital had a handle on the situation.

“I’m glad they were able to rectify the situation,” he said.

Daily News editor Dave Rogers contributed to this story.

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