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UVM Health Network Reports Significant Benchmark In Cyberattack Recovery

UVM Medical Center main entrance
Pat Bradley/WAMC
UVM Medical Center is part of the UVM Health Network

A month after a cyberattack crippled the University of Vermont Health Network’s computer systems, officials announced Monday that an important restoration of the system was completed over the weekend.

On October 28th a cyberattack disrupted the UVM Health Network’s electronic medical record system, phones, internet and computer systems.  The damage affected multiple facilities in the six-hospital system including the University of Vermont Medical Center, Central Vermont Medical Center, Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital and Porter Medical Center.
Recovery from the attack has been gradual.  In the meantime data has been manually recorded by hospital staff.
A significant milestone occurred in the restoration of electronic systems over the weekend.  Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Al Gobeille said IT teams were able to restore full access to EPIC, the electronic medical records system, at inpatient and ambulatory sites.  “We were able to successfully bring EPIC back into production mode for the University of Vermont Medical Center and we’re working on doing the same for our three affiliate outpatient settings, that’s CVMC, Porter and CVPH. This is a big step in getting back to where were prior to the cyberattack. Basically EPIC and several other applications and our infrastructure are now back live. But I do want to be clear that this will be an evolutionary process as we bring the totality of our applications back up. But as I said this was a big advancement in our recovery.”

UVM Medical Center President Dr. Stephen Leffler said while they are celebrating the restoration of the medical records system there is still a lot of work to do.  “We know this event impacted more than 500 applications at the hospital. And so we’re telling our staff to be prepared for at least a couple more weeks before it’s totally back to normal. I do think sooner than that the really big stuff will come back and I do think that while we don’t have everything back, so it’s not quite business as normal, having our electronic medical record is a huge key first step. For patients it’s going to look markedly better. But there still is some stuff that’s going to take time. But we probably have weeks in front of us before we’re back to quote-unquote normal.”

Gobeille noted that as restoration occurs they are also upgrading system security.  “As we’ve brought everything back up in terms of the infrastructure every decision that we’ve made has been with an eye toward moving to the most protected and modern thing we can do. Even our email system is now a different system from Microsoft than what we went into the cyberattack with. And that’s all designed to protect us better.  You know this is an arms race between our cyber IT folks and the bad folks and this stuff is evolving very quickly. And so we’re doing some things now to even be more secure and rebuilding things in new and different ways.”

The cyberattack is being investigated by the FBI. When asked by VTDigger reporter Katie Jickling about any potential perpetrators, Gobeille was cautious.   “We’ve been asked by the FBI not to discuss the incident and we’ve held pretty tight to that because we really hope the FBI is successful in finding them.”
Jickling: “A bunch of the other hospitals that were hit have talked about this pretty openly.”
Gobeille:  “And I don’t know the particulars of what the FBI thought of their situation versus ours. They would like us to remain quiet on this and let them do their work in the background.”

A link to information on the UVM Health Network cyberattack recovery is here.

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