Savannah hospitals trying to recover from ransomware attack

June 21, 2021 GMT

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — A coastal Georgia hospital system is still struggling to recover from a ransomware attack that shut down its computer systems last week.

Local news outlets report that the St. Joseph’s/Candler health system, which operates two hospitals in Savannah and has 4,200 employees, was still using backup procedures including paper records Monday. Some patients have said they were turned away from their scheduled appointments while others saw physicians as normal after the attack Thursday.

“While we continue to investigate the incident, we’re working to get systems up and running as quickly and as safely as possible,” spokesman Scott Larson said in a Monday statement. “Our priority is patient care, and our staff are committed to doing everything they can to mitigate disruption and provide uninterrupted care to our patients.”

Larson hasn’t said if a ransom was demanded or paid, or specified an amount. Hospital officials said they isolated the systems to try to limit damage and notified law enforcement.


Patients are being advised to keep their appointments, and Larson said the hospital system will contact any that need to be rescheduled.

Frank Katz, who directs the Center for Applied Cyber Education at Georgia Southern University’s Armstrong Campus in Savannah, said hospitals can be targets for extortion as well as sources of personal identifying information that can aid in further fraud.

“They are more likely to pay than another type of business because it’s a life and death situation,” Katz told WSAV-TV. “It really has become a situation of money, pure and simple. These are thieves that know they can extort the money and often get it.”

St. Joseph’s/Candler said in a statement that if personal or health information is breached, it will notify people affected.