Coos Health up and running after ransomware attack

Berlin Daily Sun
Published: 9/28/2021 2:38:57 PM

Coos County Family Health Services is back in full operation after a ransomware attack shut down the healthcare provider for three days last week. CCFHS CEO Ken Gordon said email, phone service and access to its electronic health records were all restored Friday.

“Fortunately, we were able to bring this episode to a successful conclusion on Thursday of last week,” said Gordon in a Monday update.

“We are grateful for the assistance of our congressional delegation and federal law enforcement authorities whose work led to the speedy and successful resolution of this event,” he said.

CCFHS serves approximately 15,000 people annually and offers services on a sliding fee scale for those without insurance or with large deductibles.

The non-profit, a major provider of health services in the valley, discovered on Sept. 20 it had fallen victim to a ransomware attack that forced it to shut down its computer and phone systems.

Gordon said CCFHS’ computer system has been secured, and so far there has been no evidence that unauthorized access to patient records or other sensitive data occurred. He said he is unable to talk about the attack itself.

Despite the attack, CCFHS managed to offer limited services last week including prescription refills, laboratory testing, and other essential services. It was able to open up two of its physician clinics for walk-in patients. By Thursday, the dental clinic was able to handle dental emergencies and denture repair.

Its weekend clinic at Androscoggin Valley Hospital on Page Hill in Berlin operated as usual with high demand reported high on both Saturday and Sunday in past because of COVID-19 testing.

Gordon said all offices are operating normally this week.

CCFHS operates primary care clinics at 133 Pleasant Street and Page Hill at AVH in Berlin and at 2 Broadway Ave., in Gorham, offering a wide range of health and social services including primary care, pediatrics, women’s health, podiatry, and behavioral health. It operates a dental clinic at 73 Main St. in Berlin. CCFHS also runs RESPONSE sites in Berlin, Lancaster, and Colebrook, addressing the needs of survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Gordon said their drive-up flu clinic opened Monday and will run Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, CCFHS will continue to offer COVID-19 testing from 8:30 a.m.-11 a.m. and COVID-19 vaccines from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Pleasant Street clinic.

He said later this week, they expect to begin offering offer third doses of the Pfizer COVID vaccine for those who are eligible to receive them.

Gordon said CCFHS is grateful for the support of its community partners who offered their assistance, support and expertise. He also credited his staff for quickly pulling together to ensure patients continued to receive care despite already dealing with the strain of a long pandemic.

“While the entire health care workforce in this country is fatigued from the demands of COVID-19, our commitment to serving our patients and community remains resolute,” Gordon said.

Finally, he expressed his appreciation for the patience and words of support from patients and the community at large.

“They made a difference, and really helped us to stay strong in the face of a difficult challenge,” he said.

These articles are being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information, visit collaborativenh.org.



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