DCHS computer systems restored

Dickinson County Memorial Hospital (Theresa Proudfit/Daily News photo)

IRON MOUNTAIN — Computer systems at Dickinson County Healthcare System are again functioning following a malware attack discovered Oct. 17, a county commissioner reported Monday.

“It was difficult,” said Commissioner Joe Stevens, a liaison to the hospital board. “It was something they worked on feverishly, but they’re back up and running.”

While addressing the crisis, the hospital continued to operate under established contingency procedures.

Shortly after the discovery, DCHS issued a statement saying it was working with a third-party security and forensics firm to assess the scope of the event, as well as to restore system access and functions. Law enforcement was notified as well.

After the initial confirmation of a computer shutdown, the hospital has issued no statements.

Stevens said the attack demonstrates that any entity can be vulnerable.

He expects further perspectives will be offered by DCHS in the days ahead. The next scheduled meeting of the full hospital board is Nov. 19.

Criminals have been increasingly targeting health care institutions with ransomware during the COVID-19 pandemic, infecting networks with malicious code that scrambles data. To unlock it, they demand payment.

As of late October, a total of 59 U.S. health care providers or systems have been affected by ransomware in 2020, disrupting patient care at up to 510 facilities, according to cybersecurity firm Emsisoft.

In September, a ransomware attack hobbled all 250 U.S. facilities of the hospital chain Universal Health Services, forcing doctors and nurses to rely on paper and pencil for record-keeping and slowing lab work.

In other action, the county board:

— Authorized the Dickinson County Library to levy the full amount of its voter-approved property tax levy for the upcoming budget year — 0.9 mills, or 90 cents per $1,000 of taxable value.

— Approved an emergency purchase of a commercial-grade washer and dryer for the correctional center from Belson Co. of Green Bay, Wis., for $20,331. A purchase had been planned next year to replace equipment that is 20 years old, but the new units can no longer wait, Controller Brian Bousley said.

— Approved paying Midwest Asphalt and Gravel Inc. of Iron Mountain $90,254 for the Lake Antoine boat launch project. The county will be reimbursed for a portion of the expense through a Michigan Waterways Program grant, putting the final cost to the county at about $46,000. Board Chairman Henry Wender complimented the contractor for its work at Lake Antoine, as well as a paving job at the courthouse.

— Agreed to install nine additional camping sites at Lake Antoine Park before the end of the year, if possible. The work would include trenching for electrical hookups.

— Directed Bousley to investigate possible insurance coverage for 80 feet of fence damaged at Norway Speedway at the Dickinson County Fairgrounds during a recent windstorm.

— Heard Bousley report that a timber harvest on county property at Pine Mountain should be wrapping up today.

— Approved paying $523 in membership dues to the National Association of Counties. Wender voted no.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.62/week.

Subscribe Today