Erie County Medical Center plans to have computers running in next 72 hours; FBI still investigating cybersecurity incident

Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo, N.Y., is still working on bringing its computer system back online after a virus infected the system in the early hours of April 9. The medical center expects to have the system back up and have full access to patient data tools within the next 72 hours, according to Peter Cutler, vice president of communications and external affairs at ECMC.

"We are focusing on restoring the patient-related sections of our computer system first," Mr. Cutler says. "Over the next 72 hours we are doing a significant restoration of that portion of the system, so staff can start entering patient data. We are starting with our highest priority first."

After being hit with the virus, ECMC officials decided to shut down the entire computer system to prevent further damage. However, the restoration process has begun, and officials expect patient data to be fully integrated into the system by April 15. The email system will also be up by then, according to a WGRZ report.

Over the last few days, staff has been using manual processes to complete patient-related activities, such as admissions and prescription writing. The hospital distributed laptops to staff so that had access to some patient data but could not add any data to EMRs, Mr. Cutler says.  

However, the computer shutdown did affect certain operations, as ECMC rescheduled some elective procedures, according to a report by The Buffalo News.

The hospital's IT staff is working with Troy, N.Y.-based GrayCastle Security, a cybersecurity services provider to restore the computer system. Around 6,000 desktop computers had to be wiped clean due to the virus and now must be restored, WGRZ reports. The medical center has a back up of patient data as well as financial and human resources records, which is being used to restore the system.

ECMC officials have neither confirmed nor denied that the incident was a ransomware attack. The state police and FBI are investigating the incident. Once the investigation is complete, ECMC will release more information.

Editor's note: This post was updated throughout.

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