Hospital put under "Total Diversion" after computer virus

by: Richard Elliot Updated:

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga.,None - Ambulances were allowed to return to Gwinnett Medical Center in Lawrenceville after information technology experts repaired a computer virus that affected the hospital's entire computer system.

Hospital officials confirmed they detected the virus Wednesday afternoon but could not tell where it came from.

An employee told Channel 2 Action News that the problem got progressively worse until Gwinnett Medical decided to declare "total diversion" status for its Lawrenceville and Duluth campuses, meaning that, except for extreme emergencies, ambulances had to divert patients to other hospitals in the area.

By Friday night, Gwinnett Medical improved its status to "trauma diversion" only, meaning ambulances could resume bringing nontrauma patients to the hospitals. A hospital spokeswoman said Saturday afternoon that the hospital had transititioned from paper records to an online system and the facililty had returned to accepting all patients.

"We've had a virus to interrupt our system within our hospital," said Gwinnett Medical Center spokeswoman Beth Okun. "It's not affecting patient care in any way, shape or form."

Okun said the virus affected computer interconnectivity, meaning hospital computers are not speaking with each other. That has forced the hospital to go to a runner system, where needed papers are shuttled by runners from station to station.

Okun added that the virus has attacked interconnectivity only and is not affecting any databases. She assured patients that medical records have not been compromised in any way.

Okun said they did not know how the virus got into the system or when the system might resume normal functions.

"We actually have some of our IT vendor partners that are on site with us that have actually been here since Wednesday," said Okun. "We've also got internal teams that are trying to identify the virus issues."

Claudio Timoftica learned about the virus while visiting a patient at the hospital. He said the problem has caused delays getting back test results.

"Only somebody without a conscience or a heart would go after a hospital," said Timoftica. "I don't know what kind of person he is, but obviously not that good."

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