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Cybersecurity Incident (Dec 2022) Updates

As we continue to work on restoring affected services we will be posting all updates regarding the cybersecurity incident on this page; arranged chronologically.

January 14th, 2023

Since the cyber security attack on December 12, 2022, an I.T. team led by MIST in collaboration with local and international experts, has been working to ensure that the requisite level of cyber security protection is in place, before systems are restored. The goal is to make the hospital’s cyber security systems more robust to reduce the likelihood of a future incident.

International experts have assured us that patient information was isolated from the compromised system, and there is no evidence that personal medical records were accessed during this incident.

Due to the QEH’s disconnection from the Internet, the provision of some services has been affected. Nevertheless, a portion of our medical equipment can operate independently of the internet, allowing us to continue providing emergency radiological services for in-patients, emergency blood work services for in and out-patients, and essential hospital functions. Notably, the patient information is being processed manually by our committed staff, and we remain committed to resolving this issue and providing the highest quality patient care possible.

Today, we are pleased to announce a major milestone in our efforts to restore connectivity. Between Saturday, January 14, and Monday, January 16, 2023, Medical Records, Pharmacy, Laboratory, Radiology, Procurement and a portion of the Finance Department will be reconnected to the internet. By Wednesday, January 18, barring any technical challenges, these departments should be fully operational to the public.

Please bear with us as departments may need to reconfigure their standard operating procedures following this incident. We are also working assiduously towards the other phases of reconnection across the hospital.

Our goal is to have our systems up and running quickly, but securely, while also being proactive about cyber security. We appreciate the public’s understanding and patience as we work to resolve this unfortunate situation.

JULIETTE BYNOE-SUTHERLAND
EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN

The QEH IT team, in collaboration with external teams, continues to work diligently to restore full operation to its IT system. To date, they have made good progress and continue to meet international standards. There will be a phased return to internet use. Therefore, as we continue to work manually, it is important for the public to note some important information to assist them as they navigate our departments.

QEH PHARMACY

  • The QEH Pharmacy remains open daily, Monday through Friday from 8:30AM until 4:30PM, and until 2:00PM on weekends and Public Holidays.
  • The Medication Delivery Service remains suspended. Individuals are invited to:
    • (a) contact the Pharmacy for advice via QEH PBX 436-6450,
    • (b) visit with their boxes/bottles due for repeats
    • (c) visit to collect their prescriptions and receive advice. When visiting the Pharmacy, the public is asked to walk their Barbados ID card.

QEH OUT-PATIENTS CLINIC

  • The Out-patients clinic remains open to the public. However, there may be delays and changes to some patients’ visits given the current situation. Patients are asked to present for their appointments as scheduled. While present on their clinic day, they are urged to be patient with staff as they do their best to work through the delays posed by the cyber security incident.

MEDICAL RECORDS (APPOINTMENTS)

  • The cyber security incident has prevented the department from issuing appointment dates at this time. Patients are urged to continue to present with their paperwork, referral, or appointment slip to have their need for a clinic date logged. They are reminded to bring their Barbados ID card. When the systems are functional again, the department will call those individuals who submitted paperwork to inform them of their appointment date.

RADIOLOGY

  • The Radiology department remains open to the public for emergency tests only. Individuals who have appointments with the Radiology Department for CT scans (Cat scans), x-rays and ultrasounds cannot be facilitated due to this threat. The appointments will be rescheduled, and the patients notified of their new dates by telephone. The department is working to reduce the wait-time for the rescheduled appointments.

ACCIDENT & EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT

  • Accident & Emergency remains open to the public.

QEH PATIENT LIAISON SERVICE (HELP DESK)

  • This service remains open to the public and is provided by a team of medical, paramedical, and nursing staff who can be contacted at 536-4800. The opening hours are Monday – Friday: 7AM to 11PM, Saturday: 8AM to 10PM, Sunday: 8AM to 8PM. The department is closed on public holidays.

We thank the public of Barbados for its continued patience and understanding as we do all we can to provide the best patient care during this period.

DR. CHRISTINE GREENIDGE
Chief Operations Officer

We are pleased to report that our IT team, working with private and international experts continues to work on containing the problem and doing full system assessments. To date, cleaning of the hospital’s computer systems has also begun. The return to regular internet-based activity will occur in a phased approach across the hospital and is expected to commence during the first week in January. Despite the challenges, our dedicated staff remains committed to operating manually as we seek to provide the best possible service. Through their efforts, our departments and wards remain open, albeit with a few necessary changes that are outlined below:

QEH PHARMACY

  • The QEH Pharmacy remains open from 8:30AM daily, until 4:30PM Monday through Friday and until 2:00PM on weekends and Public Holidays.
  • The Medication Delivery Service remains suspended at this time. Individuals are invited to:
    • (a) contact the Pharmacy for advice via QEH PBX 436-6450,
    • (b) visit with their boxes/bottles due for repeats or
    • (c) visit to collect their prescriptions and receive advice.
  • When visiting the Pharmacy, the public is asked to walk their Barbados ID card.

QEH OUT-PATIENTS CLINIC

  • Out-patients clinic remains open to the public. However, there may be delays and changes to their visit given the current situation. The public is asked to present for their appointments as scheduled. While present on your clinic day, they are urged to be patient with the staff as they do their best to work through the delays posed by the cyber security incident.

MEDICAL RECORDS (APPOINTMENTS)

  • The cyber security incident has prevented the department from issuing appointment dates at this time. The public is urged to still present with their paperwork, referral or appointment slip to have their need for a clinic date logged. They are to walk with their Barbados ID card. When the systems are functional again, the department will call those individuals who submitted paperwork to inform them of their appointment date.

RADIOLOGY

  • The Radiology Department remains open to the public for emergency tests only. Persons who have appointments with the Radiology Department for CT scans (Cat scans), xrays and ultrasounds are not able to be facilitated due to this threat. The appointments will be rescheduled and the patients notified of their new dates. The department is working to reduce the wait-time for the rescheduled appointments.

ACCIDENT & EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT

  • Accident & Emergency remains open to the public.

QEH PATIENT LIAISON SERVICE (HELP DESK)

  • This service remains open to the public and is manned by a team of medical, paramedical and nursing staff. The opening hours are Monday – Friday: 7AM to 11PM, Saturday: 8AM to 10PM, Sunday: 8AM to 8PM. The department is closed on public holidays.

DR. CHRISTINE GREENIDGE
Chief Operations Officer

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Today’s update will provide some clarifications on concerns that you may have.

  • Why has the hospital remained offline for this length of time?
    After detecting an intrusion into our laboratory’s online system on December 13, 2022 the hospital’s internet network was disconnected to prevent further intrusion, and to reduce the risk of the entire network being compromised.
  • Have personal information or medical records been leaked?
    To date there has been no indication.
  • When is the system expected to be restored?
    Progress is currently being made. To date, some key departments are being restored as planned. We expect to be in a position to provide further timelines with greater details by the end of this week.
  • Is the QEH in a position to write cheques to vendors and suppliers?
    Yes. We are in the process of making outstanding payments.

JULIETTE BYNOE-SUTHERLAND
Executive Chairman

On Friday December 16, 2022, we promised an update on our efforts to restore full operations to the Hospital. We are pleased to report that MIST has informed that we are positioned to restore operation to four priority departments by Wednesday December 21, 2022. This will alleviate the pressure placed on our Medical Services, and Accident & Emergency Department. We are equally pleased to report that salaries promised by December 22, 2022, have started to be paid. Thanks to the support of MIST, our IT department and private experts, we have made progress despite the circumstances. We thank the public for its continued patience and understanding. Further updates will be provided.

JULIETTE BYNOE-SUTHERLAND
EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN

We are on day four of the Cyber Security Incident with light beginning to be seen at the end of the tunnel. We are now able to shift our focus beyond containment of the threat to restoring connectivity. Our IT Department under the leadership of MIST with support from local and international cyber security experts have been working in parallel streams to move this process along as quickly as we possibly can. We will be able to advise on timelines for returning to full operations on Monday December 19th 2022.

In the interim, our teams delivering clinical and diagnostic services continue to respond to the challenges and we are notifying the public of a series of expected changes we are making in the Pharmacy Department, Medical Records and Outpatients. Our AED is under severe pressure as the Lab and Radiology Departments are experiencing delays given that results are being distributed manually.

Here is some important information we wish the public to be aware of:

Pharmacy

  • New QEH prescriptions: persons who have received QEH prescriptions are advised to visit the QEH Pharmacy to receive further instructions regarding having the prescription filled.
  • Medication delivery requests submitted via Delivery Hotline or QEH Website: If you submitted a request for delivery of medication on or after Thursday, December 8, 2022, and have not received a delivery or follow-up call from the QEH Pharmacy, please present to the QEH Pharmacy with your valid labelled boxes or bottles and your Barbados ID card to have your repeat medications filled.
  • Delivery requests submitted in Out-Patients Clinic: if you left your new prescription at Out-Patients Clinic requesting delivery, please note that the QEH Pharmacy is unable to fill these new prescriptions at this time. Please present to the QEH Pharmacy to collect your prescription and receive further instructions regarding having your prescription filled.
  • Delivery requests not yet submitted: The QEH pharmacy is unable to take requests for delivery of medication at this time. Please present to the QEH Pharmacy with your valid labelled boxes or bottles and your Barbados ID card to have your repeats filled.

Medical Records (Appointments)

The cyber security incident has prevented the department from issuing appointment dates at this time. You are urged to still present with your paperwork or referral or appointment slip to have your need for a clinic date logged. Please walk with your Barbados ID card. When the systems are functional again, the department will call those persons who submitted paperwork to inform them of their appointment date.

Out-Patient Clinics

Out-patient clinics remain open to the public at this time. Please present for your appointments as scheduled. While present on your clinic day, we urge you to be patient with the staff as they do their best to work through the delays posed by the cyber security incident.

Accident and Emergency Department

Accident & Emergency remains open to the public for emergencies. They continue to do their best to navigate the challenges posed by the cyber security incident on their operations.

We apologise for the inconvenience and assure you of our continued commitment to delivering the best service under the circumstance.

JULIETTE BYNOE-SUTHERLAND
EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN

The QEH is in its the third day of a cyber security incident. The focus has been on service continuity and preparing for restored connectivity. Although, the hospital has the necessary on site and off island back up of our systems, we remain disconnected from the internet to minimize the spread of this incident. This disconnection continues to result in some disruption and delays in our services. The hospital sincerely apologizes and truly appreciate your patience at this time.

While our IT team continues to focus on containment and threat analysis, a small team comprising of management, cyber security experts and our telecoms provider developed a plan for restoring services and safeguarding against future incidents. The good news is that the hospital continues to provide the best possible service under the circumstance. Once again, we thank you for your patience and understanding.

JULIETTE BYNOE-SUTHERLAND
EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN

The QEH continued to experience a disruption of services due to a cyber security attack on its internet systems. The QEH IT Department in collaboration with the Ministry of Industry, Innovation, Science and Technology (MIST) as well as private cyber security experts, continued their work of containing the threat and conducting a comprehensive department by department inventory and assessment of the computer systems. They are seeking to identify the source of the attack, so that the hospital is better positioned to mitigate similar occurrences.

Our efforts continue to focus on maintaining as much service continuity as best as we can in these circumstances. Last evening, Dr. Chaynie Williams, Director of Medical Services (Ag) met with a team of Medical Staff to update them on the incident. Alternative approaches to delivering medical services were agreed on for continuity of care. Key departments affected such as the Laboratory, Radiology, Pharmacy and Medical Records are doing their best to respond to the clinical needs and requests emanating from Operating Theatre, Wards, Units, Outpatient Clinics and Emergency Department. We sincerely appreciate the efforts and level of cooperation we have seen from all departments as they adapt to the situation.

Key notes for the public at this time:

  • Persons who have appointments with the Radiology Department for CT scans, xrays and ultrasounds are not able to be facilitated due to this threat. The appointments will be rescheduled and the patients notified of their new dates. The department is working to reduce the wait-time for the rescheduled appointments.
  • Pharmacy is working to ensure patients remain as covered as possible with their needed medication. The public will continue to be updated on this.
  • Medical Records is working to devise a process to continue outpatient appointments. Persons may continue to present to submit their paperwork for appointments.
  • The QEH Patient Liaison Service (Help Desk) will continue to respond to queries from the public. This service is manned by physicians, nurses and emergency medical technicians who are on-hand to provide any needed advice. The contact number is 536-4800 and the hours of operation are as follows: Monday – Friday: 7AM to 11PM, Saturday: 8AM to 10PM, Sunday: 8AM to 8PM.

Regrettably, we do not yet have a time-line from the IT experts on the duration of this incident, but we understand that they are moving as carefully and systematically as they can to respond to the threat posed. Please be assured that we will keep you updated as best possible as we do all we can in this unprecedented scenario.

JULIETTE SUTHERLAND-BYNOE
Executive Chairman

The Public is advised that the QEH is currently Investigating a cyber security incident on its Internet network. As a result of this incident there will be disruptions and delays in services, the duration of which is unknown at this time. The hospital’s IT Department in conjunction with the Ministry of Innovation and Smart Technology and cyber security experts are currently working on identifying and resolving the situation to restore affected services as soon as possible.

We are taking all necessary precautions to protect the integrity of our systems and patient privacy.

The QEH apologises for this inconvenience, and assures the public, that it will continue to manage emergencies.

Please note:

  • The Ambulance Service continues to function as normal.
  • The Blood Collecting Centre continues to welcome blood donations.

For further information please contact the Patient Liaison Service (Help Desk) at 536-4800

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