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Cyber Attack At St. Vincent Hospital In Worcester Hospital Causes Long Delays In Emergency Room

WORCESTER (CBS) – A cybersecurity attack on a local hospital sent wait times in the emergency room skyrocketing, with some patients saying they were unable to see a doctor.

John Krikorian owns an auto body shop off Franklin Street in Worcester. Last Tuesday, Krikorian said he was working out when he started to feel a pain in his chest. He went home, and by Wednesday morning, he knew he needed to call a doctor.

Krikorian had a heart attack five years ago and was concerned something serious might be happening again.

"The spasm in my chest wasn't normal," said Krikorian.

After speaking with his doctor, Krikorian said he was advised to stop by the emergency room at St. Vincent Hospital to have it checked out.

When he first arrived, he said a nurse did blood work and performed an EKG. Shortly after, Krikorian said he was returned to the waiting room to wait for his results. That's where he sat for more than nine hours with little to no answers.

"After hours, nobody had been called in," said Krikorian, noting the two dozen other patients waiting in the lobby. "Frustration. I could see the frustration on everybody's face."

Hours went by before a doctor came into the lobby to tell waiting patients what was going on.

"He came out to explain to everybody their systems are down, they can't get information," said Krikorian.

His blood work was done, but doctors could not access the results.

For its part St. Vincent Hospital's parent company, Tenet Healthcare, said it experienced a cybersecurity incident but kept providing services.

St. Vincent Hospital's statement reads: "Tenet, our parent company, experienced a cybersecurity incident last week and responded with extensive protection protocols to safeguard its systems and prevent further unauthorized activity. During the temporary disruption, Saint Vincent Hospital continued to care for our community utilizing established backup processes. At this time, our critical applications have been restored and we are resuming normal operations. In parallel, Tenet launched an investigation, which is ongoing, and is taking additional measures to protect patient, employee and other data. We are grateful to our physicians, nurses and staff for continuing to provide safe, quality patient care while we work to address this matter."

Krikorian 's blood work came back normal.

St. Vincent Hospital said the cybersecurity threat has been resolved.

Krikorian is hoping the hospital works on refining its backup plan to provide critical services despite the presence of a virtual threat.

"You have to do something," he said. "You can't just let people sit for 12-14 hours in pain. There has to be an alternative for when your commuters are down then you have to come up with some kind of system to get people through here."

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