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Guthrie Lourdes Hospital resumes elective surgeries after cyberattack

Phoebe Taylor-Vuolo
Hospital officials say they are no longer diverting ambulances to other local health care facilities. Lourdes pharmacies are able to fill prescriptions again. But the hospital’s voicemail and patient portal are still down.

Guthrie Lourdes Hospital in Binghamton has begun scheduling elective surgeries again after a cyberattack cut off access to patient records and disrupted services.

The May 8 ransomware attack targeted Ascension, Lourdes’ former parent organization. Lourdes was still transitioning to the Guthrie health care network, which acquired Lourdes in February.

Hospital officials said by using Guthrie’s systems, as well as regional health information systems that were not affiliated with Ascension, doctors have been able to access crucial patient records such as allergies and medication lists.

Shortly after the attack, the hospital began diverting ambulances to other health care facilities and canceled all elective surgeries. Lourdes President Kathy Connerton said the hospital is working to catch up on those procedures.

“We do have a bit of a backlog. But all of our team was focused on staying in touch with those patients. They’ve all been rescheduled now,” Connerton said. “I’m happy to say that while we did delay some things out of the abundance of caution, we were able to get going again fairly quickly.”

Connerton said staff should be able to finish working through that backlog in the next couple of weeks. She added that since May 8, the hospital was still able to care for at least 2,000 patients a day.

Connerton said the hospital has transferred some patients to other health care facilities, but said those transfers were based on the needs of the patient and would have happened regardless of the cyberattack.

Local Lourdes pharmacies can now fill prescriptions again. The hospital system is using Guthrie locations in Corning and Cortland to get people their medications.

Officials said they will also work with patients who depend on Lourdes’ Patient Financial Assistance Program to ensure they are able to access their prescriptions.

Despite the workarounds, staff are still unable to record clinical documentation and have been using handwritten notes and dictation devices. The hospital’s voicemail and patient portal are still down.

Lourdes’ outpatient labs are still closed. Officials said they plan to reopen the lab at Guthrie Lourdes Hospital on Riverside Dr. in Binghamton, as well as the location on Shippers Rd. in Vestal on Monday.

Hospital leadership also noted reports of scam callers taking advantage of the confusion after the cyberattack, and reminded patients to verify any calls or requests for personal medical information.

Guthrie CEO and President Dr. Edmund Sabanegh said the cyberattack has prompted leadership to speed up the transition away from Ascension’s systems.

“These [cyberattacks] tend to be longer in duration, which is why we feel the best thing we can do is just move [Lourdes] to our system, which was the plan to begin with,” Sabanegh said. “And we've put a lot of the extra effort in to be able to do that on a quicker timeline.”

Officials say some functions, including payroll and the ordering of medical supplies, were not impacted by the cyberattack.