3,500 patient appointments cancelled so far after ransomware attack

Bluewater Health CEO Paula Reaume-Zimmer

Bluewater Health says 3,500 patients’ appointments have been cancelled so far in the wake of a cyber attack which impacted southwestern Ontario hospitals.

Five hospitals were affected by the Oct. 23 ransomware by Daixin which crippled Bluewater Health’s computer system. The hospitals and its IT service provider TransForm Services did not pay the ransom demanded.

Data from over 269,000 patient visits and 20,000 social insurance numbers – mainly from Workplace Safety Insurance Board claims – were stolen and now are circulating on the dark web.

The hospital’s CEOs met with the media this morning. Bluewater Health CEO Paula Reaume Zimmer told reporters in a carefully scripted virtual news conference 3,500 patient appointments had to be cancelled over the last four weeks and “heavily impacted areas like diagnostics have had to prioritize urgent and emergent care.”

Reaume-Zimmer called the cyber attack “sickening” adding the hospitals in Sarnia and Petrolia have prioritized “safe, quality care” as TransForm Services works to rebuild the computer systems.

“We are all eager to return to full operations,” she said. TransForm has previously stated it will take until mid-December to fully restore the computer systems.

Reaume-Zimmer didn’t give a firm answer on what impact the cancellation of 3,500 appointments and procedures would have on wait times for services, but said the hospital had a very good track record of reducing wait lists caused by the pandemic and she expects the same after the cyber attack.

Meantime, Bluewater Health has set up a dedicated phone service for patients who may have had their SIN numbers compromised as a result of the data breach.

Patients who have visited the hospital since November 1999 for a work-related injury, such as a WSIB claim, are asked to phone (519) 346-4604 seven days a week from 9am to 5pm.

Bluewater Health personnel will be providing patients with details on how to access third party identity theft protection and credit monitoring solutions.

More to come