Local hospitals warned of possible appointment delays amid ‘system outage’

Local hospitals warned of possible appointment delays amid ‘system outage’

Published Oct 23, 2023  •  Last updated 9 hours ago  •  2 minute read

The Ouellette Campus of Windsor Regional Hospital is shown in this March 2022 file photo.
The Ouellette Campus of Windsor Regional Hospital is shown in this March 2022 file photo. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

Appointments and procedures for patients across Southwestern Ontario will be postponed and rescheduled following a cyberattack affecting five hospitals, including those in Leamington and Windsor.

Bluewater Health in Sarnia, Chatham Kent Health Alliance, Erie Shores HealthCare in Leamington, Windsor’s Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare and Windsor Regional Hospital said in a joint statement Monday night that they were all affected by the hackers.

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“A shared service provider used by all our hospitals is experiencing a cyberattack,” the hospitals said. “Unfortunately, this incident is impacting our provision of care in various ways. For those patients who have care scheduled in the next few days, we will contact you directly, if possible, to reschedule or provide alternate arrangements.”

The hospitals said Monday night that they were still trying to determine how much patient information was compromised.

“We are investigating the cause and scope of incident, including whether any patient information was affected,” the hospitals said. “Our investigation is ongoing and we will provide further updates, as appropriate.”

The hospitals said they were trying to reach out to patients to reschedule appointments, but it was likely they would not be able to immediately reach everyone. Windsor Regional Hospital said earlier Monday that its email system was down.

“Unfortunately, we may not be able to reach all patients, and we request your understanding if we are required to reschedule care in person at our facilities,” the statement read. “Also, we would continue to ask if you are not needing emergency care to attend your primary care provider or local clinic to reduce the impact upon the Hospitals as we work towards addressing these issues and focus on those needing hospital care.”

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The joint statement did not identify the service provider.

But TransForm, a local non-profit founded by all five southwestern Ontario hospitals that runs IT, supply chain, and accounts, said earlier Monday that member hospitals and Windsor Essex Hospice are experiencing a systems outage including email.

“If your patients have a pre-booked appointment, please be advised they might be delayed or postponed,” TransForm said in a statement posted to its website.

“We encourage the use of appropriate community health services rather than going to the emergency department unless it is a true emergency.”

Anyone who needs to contact the Windsor Regional Hospital should call 519-254-5577.

“We will direct your call as best we can,” Windsor Regional Hospital said. “We appreciate patience as there may be additional delays.”

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