Ascension now says it was victim of ransomware attack, but Joliet hospital is OK

Not giving details on ransom demands

Ascension Saint Joseph-Joliet Emergency Department on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023.

Ascension now says its healthcare network was the victim of a ransomware attack.

A news release issued late Monday for the first time described the breach of Ascension information network, which occurred on May 8, as “a ransomware attack” but said its hospitals and other medical offices across Illinois remain open and operating.

Those operations include Ascension Saint Joseph–Joliet hospital, where Ascension has described the impact as “minimal.”

“Ascension previously reported that it experienced a ransomware attack that has caused disruptions to patient care in its network,” Ascension said in its news release, although previous statements referred to the breach as a “cybersecurity event.”

Ransomware attacks typically hold a victim’s data hostage in demand for payment.

Ascension Saint Joseph-Joliet on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023.

Ascension did not provide any details on what demands it may be facing.

“We are focused on restoring systems safely,” the release said. “We are making progress, however, it will take time to return to normal operations.”

St. Louis-based Ascension operates in 19 states and the District of Columbia. Its health care network includes 140 hospitals.

“All Ascension Illinois hospitals, physician offices, and care sites across Illinois remain open and operational,” the release said. “We continue to accept all internal and external transfers.”

Ascension did not say in the Monday update whether patient information was obtained by an outside party in the security breach. Last week, Ascension said it was trying to determine whether patient information was affected.