St. Margaret’s Health - Spring Valley breached by cyber security attack

SMH has no evidence of breach in patient information; unsure how attack breached system

St. Margaret's and IVCH had signed a binding definitive agreement to consolidate their health care operations to form a regional health network. The new organization will be governed by SMP Health System, of which St. Margaret's is a member, through a new regional parent company that will have board members representing the local communities historically served by the two health systems.

St. Margaret’s Health – Spring Valley was victim to a cyber security attack over the weekend. The breach in security occurred early Sunday morning.

At this time, St. Margaret’s has seen no evidence of a breach in patient information and is not sure how the attack was able to gain access to its system.

Vice President of Quality and Community Services Linda Burt said the organization is exploring all options to make sure something like this won’t happen again.

“We have a number of software applications that are put in place to prevent this,” Burt said. “We have not determined yet how this was able to bypass some of those systems. That’s why the experts are here.”

The breach was identified by the organization’s IT department and required a complete shutdown of the organization’s computer network.

All web-based operations for the Spring Valley facility are out of use, including email and patient portal.

St. Margaret’s Peru systems were not affected by the breach since its computer systems haven’t yet been merged because of the ongoing integration.

St. Margaret’s said they were in immediate contact with cyber security experts when the breach was identified and they later arrived on the scene.

The experts are performing thorough assessment of all systems. In the meantime, the Spring Valley branch still can use telephone and fax services as those have been determined safe to use. At this time there is no set timeline for when all systems will be safe to use and functional.

Burt said the organization is prepared to continue to operate despite current limitations.

“We have drills, and we have practiced for computer downtime,” Burt said. “Our computer systems periodically undergo updates that require the system to be shut down. So we just implemented all of our paper processes.”

St. Margaret’s Spring Valley will be diverting diagnostic imaging procedures to the Peru branch when possible. This came as a recommendation of their radiologist to ensure nothing will be missed when analyzing high definition images.

Until a return to normalcy, the Spring Valley branch will be operating in the old-school capacity making the best of paper charts and tests.

St. Margaret’s Spring Valley is asking for patience and cooperation as staff work toward resolving the issue.