Ottawa

Kemptville hospital shuts down ER after 'cybersecurity incident'

The Kemptville District Hospital's emergency department is temporarily closed and some X-rays and ultrasound appointments have been postponed after a "cybersecurity" incident forced the hospital to take its IT network offline.

Hospital also postpones some X-ray and ultrasound appointments

A sign tells visitors to the Kemptville District Hospital on Thursday its emergency department is temporarily closed. The hospital says a 'cybersecurity incident' is to blame. (Francis Ferland/CBC)
  • UPDATE: On Oct. 22, the hospital said its emergency department has reopened, though "IT issues remain."

The Kemptville District Hospital has temporarily closed its emergency department after falling victim to a "cybersecurity incident."

The hospital south of Ottawa said in a news release Thursday the unspecified incident occurred Wednesday, forcing the hospital to "take its IT environment offline."

"Cybersecurity efforts are currently working with KDH to contain the incident, and we are running diagnostics to evaluate the full scope of the situation," the hospital said.

The hospital had previously said an "IT disruption" Wednesday morning was to blame.

During the shutdown, paramedics will bring people needing urgent care to the nearest emergency room, the hospital said. 

The hospital's ER serves nearly 18,000 people according to North Grenville Mayor Nancy Peckford, who called the cyber security incident an "unfortunate development."

Peckford said she's hopeful the closure will just be "a matter of days."

Outpatient X-rays and ultrasounds appointments have also been postponed. The hospital will continue performing day surgeries and total joint replacement surgeries, although patients can expect some delays as they have to be registered using paper rather than computers.

It could be several days before the scope of the cybersecurity breach is known, according to one hospital official. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

Police have been alerted

It's still too early to know when things will return to normal, said Marcus Hewitt, the hospital's vice-president of finance and its chief operating officer.

"We hope to have further clarity around the magnitude of the event and potential in-house resolutions in the next few days," Hewitt said in Thursday's statement.

Ontario Provincial Police were at the hospital Wednesday and the incident has been reported to their cyber crime unit, the hospital said. 

Both the municipality and Ontario's health ministry are also being kept up to speed, the hospital said.

"It is a reality of doing business in this day and age, and it's quite unfortunate that obviously a very small hospital in eastern Ontario was hit," Peckford said of the cyber security incident.

Even with "top notch" security in place "you are not removed from the risk," she said.

With files from Nicole Williams

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