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Cyberattack at Chicago's Lurie Children's Hospital leaves families desperate for answers

Cyberattack at Chicago's Lurie Children's Hospital leaves families desperate for answers
Cyberattack at Chicago's Lurie Children's Hospital leaves families desperate for answers 02:27

CHICAGO (CBS) – Nearly a month into a major network outage at Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago, patients' families are desperate for answers about what happened and when operations will be back to normal.

CBS 2 spoke to one family who said the clock is ticking for them.

The family needs to appeal their insurance company's decision not to fund at-home nursing for their daughter, who desperately needs it, but they haven't been able to work on that process for the past month as the network at Lurie has been down.

"We're scared. We're scared of something happening," said Michael Damian Thomas, father of the Lurie patient. "We're scared of not having information. We're scared of if anything happens to Caitlin or the other kids like Caitlin."

Thomas and his daughter Caitlin were frightened because they've been traveling to Lurie Children's Hospital regularly for 21 years, most recently from the Champaign-Urbana area in east central Illinois.

"Doctors here have almost never seen the syndrome," Thomas said.

Caitlin was born with a very rare neurodevelopmental disorder called Aicardi syndrome and requires 12 different specialists who care for her at Lurie. But ever since Lurie's network was breached and taken offline reportedly by a ransomware gang known as Rhysida on Jan. 31. It caused major disruptions to the Streeterville hospital's regular operations.

Thomas said they've been unable to access his daughter's very complicated medical records. He said the last email they received was on Feb. 6.

To make matters worse, the family's insurance company denied a request for in-home nursing in January.

"We're in the middle of an appeal process, and we need access to her records, and the clock is ticking on an appeal," Thomas said. "And we don't know if, when the records are coming back. We don't know if they're coming back."

This week, Lurie only said it's working closely with police and security experts on the issue but couldn't share details of their investigation.

Families like Caitlin's still want to know if their personal data was compromised.

"I love Lurie. Lurie has been so good for Caitlin," Thomas said, adding, "It would be nice to have a little bit more information about what happened and what the plan is going forward."

As CBS 2 reported this week, the group Rhysida claimed responsibility for the attack and a post that appeared to be trying to sell data appeared on the dark web. The price tag was about $3.4 million. Caitlin's family said insurance has easily paid out that much money just for Caitlin's surgeries over the years.

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