While St. Margaret's Health in Spring Valley lists the COVID-19 pandemic and a shortage of staff among the "number of factors" to blame for its closing, the 2021 "cyberattack on the computer system" is also mentioned. The latter halted the hospital's ability to submit claims to insurers, Medicare, or Medicaid for months, sending it into a financial spiral.
"The hospital closure will have a profound impact on the well-being of our community," Spring Valley Mayor Melanie Malooley-Thompson said Saturday on Facebook. "This will be a challenging transition for many residents who rely on our hospital for quality healthcare."
But according to an NBC News story, St. Margaret's is not the only hospital to have been hit by a ransomware attack, as at least 300 such attacks on American healthcare facilities have been documented every year since 2020.
Twila Brase, RN and president/co-founder of the Citizens' Council for Health Freedom, suggests a return to keeping records with pen and paper.
"Ransomware attacks cost a lot of money," she begins. "Not only do they endanger the lives of patients who are depending on a system to keep functioning, but they also cost a lot of money either in giving the ransom to those who took it, or in addition to it. Just trying to get all their cyber security back together is very, very expensive."
In her view, people can only benefit from going back to "the old way" of doing things.
"There are, as a matter of fact, some surgery centers and others who have decided that they're never going to electronic health records," Brase notes. "I think it's defeatist to say this is what we're stuck with. We're not stuck with this; we don't have to have electronic medical records."
She says Congress could either take away the quasi mandate, or hospitals and clinics that want to keep running and save themselves money and headaches could just decide to move back to paper and pen.