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Ascension cyberattack: How some states have been affected

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The health system continues to work to recover from a ransomware attack. Some hospitals continue to divert ambulances.

Nearly a week after first reporting a cybersecurity incident, Ascension continues to work to recover from a ransomware attack.

Image credit: ©Melinda Nagy - stock.abode.com

Some Ascension hospitals continue to divert ambulances due to a ransomware attack. Some elective surgeries have been delayed.

One of America’s largest hospital systems, Ascension continues to care for patients in its hospitals and other facilities. But the Catholic health system says the attack has affected patient care, and some surgeries and appointments are being postponed.

Some Ascension hospitals continue to divert ambulances to other facilities for emergency treatment, but some of the system’s hospitals are accepting all patients.

Ascension’s electronic health records remain offline, so the system is relying on paper for many processes. So the system is warning patients that there could be longer waits at some clinics and urgent care facilities.

Ascension says the system is working to restore services but hasn’t offered a timeline for full recovery.

“We are making progress, however, it will take time to return to normal operations,” Ascension said Monday.

Ascension has provided more information on the disruptions to care, including specific information in some states. Headquartered in St. Louis, Ascension operates 140 hospitals and 40 senior centers in 19 states and Washington, D.C.

Here’s a roundup of the impact of the attack on some of the key states where Ascension operates hospitals and healthcare facilities.

Illinois

All of the emergency rooms at Ascension’s Illinois hospitals are open and are accepting transfers, the system says. Ascension Medical Group doctor’s offices are open and are maintaining all appointments. Urgent care centers are open but patients should expect delays.

Patients are being told to arrive for scheduled surgeries, but they will be notified if a procedure needs to be postponed. Ascension Rx retail pharmacies in Illinois cannot fill prescriptions, the system says.

Michigan

While all Ascension Michigan emergency rooms are open, some hospitals in the state are diverting ambulances for patients with some health issues to other facilities for treatment. Patients with scheduled elective surgeries should arrive as planned; patients will be notified if procedures must be postponed.

Ascension Michigan Medical Partners doctor’s offices are open, but patients should brace for longer waits. Patients should bring lists of current medications and notes of symptoms.

Ascension Rx retail pharmacies in Michigan are able to fill prescriptions, the system says, but patients are being advised to ask doctors to send prescriptions to other pharmacies while Ascension is working to restore services.

Texas

Hospitals are open and emergency rooms are accepting all patients. Ascension Texas Medical Group offices and urgent care facilities are open, but patients should prepare for longer waits due to delays with electronic records being down.

Patients with planned elective surgeries should arrive as scheduled unless told otherwise.

Some Ascension Rx retail pharmacies in Texas are not operational.

Indiana

Ascension St. Vincent emergency rooms are open and accepting walk-in patients. But some Indiana hospitals are diverting ambulances of patients with certain cases to other facilities for emergency treatment. Patients with scheduled elective procedures should arrive as scheduled.

Ascension Medical Group doctor’s offices have normal hours and urgent care centers remain open, but patients should prepare for some delays. Ascension Rx retail pharmacies in Indiana cannot fill prescriptions.

Tennessee

Ascension Saint Thomas hospitals and physician offices remain open. Some Ascension hospitals in Tennessee are diverting some ambulances to other facilities for treatment.

Urgent care centers are open as well. Those going to physician offices and urgent care centers could see longer waits than usual.

Patients with elective surgeries are being told to arrive when scheduled.

Florida

Ascension Sacred Heart and St. Vincent's hospitals and physician offices are open. The hospitals in the Sunshine State are accepting patients. As with other areas, doctors’ offices and urgent care centers are doing all documentation on paper, so patients should be ready for delays.

Ascension Rx retail pharmacies in Florida cannot fill prescriptions at this time. Other retail pharmacies across North Florida are able to fill prescriptions, the system says.

Wisconsin

Ascension’s physician offices and urgent care offices are open, but patients could see longer waits.

All Ascension hospitals in Wisconsin are accepting patients to their emergency rooms. Patients with scheduled non-emergent surgeries should arrive unless notified otherwise.

Ascension Rx retail pharmacies in Wisconsin are not able to fill prescriptions.

Alabama

Ascension St. Vincent’s hospitals are accepting patients to their emergency rooms, and patients are being told to show up for scheduled elective surgeries.

Physician offices and urgent care centers are open with normal hours, though patients should expect delays due to paper documentation. Some Ascension Rx retail pharmacies in Alabama are not operational.

Maryland

Hospital emergency rooms are open, and those with planned surgeries are being told to arrive as scheduled, unless told otherwise. Physician offices are open, but patients should prepare for some delays.

Ascension Rx retail pharmacies in Maryland are operating, but patients are being asked to bring their prescription number or prescription bottle.

Kansas

Ascension Via Christi hospital emergency rooms are open and serving patients. Scheduled elective surgeries are continuing for patients, unless notified otherwise.

Ascension Via Christi Medical Partners doctor’s offices are open and keeping scheduled appointments, though some delays are possible.

Ascension Rx retail pharmacies in Wichita cannot fill prescriptions. All Via Christi inpatient pharmacies are operational.

Washington, D.C.

Providence Health Services’ Physician Offices are open and maintaining scheduled appointments, though patients should anticipate longer waits. The electronic prescription system is not operating.

Other updates

Ascension is expected to weather the ransomware attack without substantial damage to its finances, Fitch Ratings said Tuesday. The attack “should not significantly impede a current operational turnaround,” Fitch said.

Ascension is rated AA+ by Fitch, and the system was given a negative rating outlook in September 2023. But Ascension’s operations have improved so far in 2024, Fitch says.

“Ascension’s very strong liquidity and leverage position provides significant rating cushion,” Fitch says.

But the Ascension attack illustrates the danger of ransomware attacks to hospital systems.

“Ascension’s recent cyberattack, however, highlights the healthcare sector’s historic increase in the number, severity and frequency of cyber assaults, particularly over the last several months,” Fitch says.

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