Kansas City-area hospital transfers patients, reschedules appointments after cyberattack

Jason Macuray
A hospital near Kansas City, Missouri, is struggling to provide care to patients this week after a cyberattack limited its systems.

A hospital near Kansas City, Missouri, is struggling to provide care to patients this week after a cyberattack limited its systems.

In an update on Wednesday, Liberty Hospital said it was still dealing with disruptions to its computer systems that began on Tuesday. The facility initially had to transfer some patients to other hospitals, but officials said the situation had stabilized.

“Overnight we continued to care for patients following standard downtime protocols. We did not transfer any additional patients to other facilities overnight. Today we continue to actively investigate the source of the disruption,” the hospital said in Wednesday’s update.

“Patient safety and care are our utmost priority, as well as getting our systems back online. We expect this process to take time. Our primary and specialty care clinics continue to see certain patients and are reaching out to reschedule others as needed. If you need to have a prescription refilled, please call your provider’s office.”

On Tuesday the hospital urged those in need of medical care to go to other hospitals. Officials said some patients were transferred to other facilities, and several local news outlets reported that the hospital contacted fire and emergency medical services, including the Kansas City Fire Department, for help transferring patients.

Battalion Chief Mike Hopkins told the Kansas City Star on Tuesday that the fire department transported about 30 patients and another 10 to 15 were taken to other hospitals by emergency medical services.

In its statement on Tuesday, the hospital explained that it has struggled to document patient care while its computer systems were down.

Officials were unable to say how long the issue will last. Doctors are reaching out to patients with scheduled appointments to figure out alternatives. Several patients told reporters at local news outlets that they were frustrated to have to reschedule needed appointments and some only found out after already arriving at the hospital.

Liberty Hospital — located in a suburb about 20 minutes away from Kansas City — is a public hospital with more than 1,900 employees.

While the hospital did not respond to requests for comment about whether it was a ransomware incident, KMBC reported that officials at the hospital received a ransom note.

“We have hacked you and downloaded all confidential data of your company. And it can be spread out to people and media,” the message reportedly said. “Your reputation will be ruined. Do not hesitate and save your business. We’re the ones who can quickly recover your systems. Starting from now, you have 72 hours to contact us.”

The holiday season attack caps a devastating year of ransomware gangs continuing to specifically target healthcare facilities. Throughout 2023 dozens of hospitals have been forced to divert ambulances and shut down departments after ransomware attacks, endangering the lives of thousands.

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Jonathan Greig is a Breaking News Reporter at Recorded Future News. Jonathan has worked across the globe as a journalist since 2014. Before moving back to New York City, he worked for news outlets in South Africa, Jordan and Cambodia. He previously covered cybersecurity at ZDNet and TechRepublic.

 

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