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DCH Health System closes three hospitals except “critical” patients after ransomware attack

Computer code on a screen with a skull representing a computer virus / malware attack.

Three hospitals operated by DCH Health System in Alabama were closed Tuesday to all but the most critical patients after cyber criminals attacked the hospital system’s computers, holding them ransom for an unspecified amount of money, 

In a statement Tuesday, DCH Health System said DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa, Northport Medical Center in Northport and Fayette Medical Center have all been closed to all “but the most critical new patients.” 

“A criminal is limiting our ability to use our computer systems in exchange for an as-yet unknown payment,” The statement reads. “Our hospitals have implemented our emergency procedures to ensure safe and efficient operations in the event technology dependent on computers is not available. That said, we feel it is in the best interest of patient safety that DCH Regional Medical Center, Northport Medical Center and Fayette Medical Center are closed to all but the most critical new patients. Our staff is caring for the patients who are currently in the hospital, and we have no plans to transfer current patients.”

“If you are scheduled for an outpatient procedure or test at a DCH hospital, call before you come. Local ambulances have been instructed to take patients to other hospitals if at all possible. Patients who come to our emergency departments may be transferred to another hospital when they are stabilized. We are constantly evaluating our situation, and we will provide updates.”

Attempts to reach a spokesman for DCH Hospital Tuesday afternoon were not immediately successful.

Paul Daymond, a spokesman with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s office in Birmingham, told APR on Tuesday that he couldn’t discuss the details of the matter as it was an ongoing investigation, but that the FBI was actively working on it. 

“We are working closely with the hospital on that,” Daymond said.

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Additionally, seven hospitals and several health centers in Australia were hit Monday with a ransomware attack, according to the Victorian government. 

The Alabama hospital attack comes after numerous such cyber ransoms have hit hospitals, school systems, businesses and even law enforcement agencies around the country in recent months. 

Springhill Medical Center in Mobile was hit by a ransomware attack in July, according to news accounts. 

Park DuValle Community Health Center in Louisville, KY discovered a ransomware attack on June 7 and paid $70,000 in Bitcoins to the criminals to regain access to patient records. 

The Mobile County School District’s website was temporarily down after a ransomware attack Sept. 23, according to news accounts. Houston County Schools pushed back the start of school by four days this year after a malware attack on the district’s computer system.


Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

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