Meadville hospital fights another kind of virus: computer malware

Meadville Tribune fileAn attack three weeks ago by computer malware disabled computer systems at Meadville Medical System that handled everything from medical records to email. The hospital still hasn’t restored full functionality.

MEADVILLE – Almost three weeks after being hit with a computer virus, Meadville Medical Center’s computer system has yet to be restored fully.

The hospital’s computer operating system was hit with a virus, or malware attack, March 26, which took down multiple functions of the hospital — everything from electronic medial records to its email.

Malware, short for malicious software, is any kind of computer software with malicious intent.

Meadville Medical Center took its computers offline immediately following the attack.

The hospital got law enforcement involved and started working with a third-party computer forensics firm to restore its systems.

The systems restoration has been a slow process. On March 31, five days after the attack, the hospital announced the third-party forensic firm had determined it was safe to bring the system’s electronic medical records back online. Other systems remain down.

Information was sent Tuesday to the Meadville Tribune from hospital personnel via personal gmail.com email accounts rather than through the hospital’s domain, mmchs.org.

​In a statement issued Tuesday afternoon, the hospital said through the investigation, it identified and removed malware on its systems.

Because of the attack on its computers, the hospital has been using routine downtime procedures during the disruption, the statement said.

“MMC has been working diligently to remediate the technical issues and restore complete access,” the statement said. “At the present, MMC has made significant progress to restore key systems and expects the vast majority of core systems to be restored and functional this week.”

The hospital also said there was “no indication the malware resulted in any unauthorized access to or taking of patient information.”

Don Rhoten, the hospital’s vice president of consumer engagement, would only say the hospital is committed to providing the highest quality care to patients and that the hospital apologizes to anyone inconvenienced during the downtime.

“Due to the nature of the incident, MMC is not able to provide any additional information about what occurred until the investigation is fully complete,” Rhoten said in a statement to the Tribune. “While we believe all of our core systems will return to full operation by the end of this week, we are unable to exactly say when the investigation will be over.”