State confirms cyberattack at two St. Lawrence County hospitals

Canton-Potsdam Hospital in Potsdam (Provided photo — Christopher Lenney, Watertown Daily Times)

POTSDAM — St. Lawrence Health System diverted ambulances from two St. Lawrence County hospitals after a cyberattack disabled some computer systems Tuesday. The cyberattack has also been confirmed by the state Department of Health.

At about 4:30 a.m., St. Lawrence County Emergency Services Director Matthew Denner said his department was instructed by St. Lawrence Health System to divert ambulances away from Canton-Potsdam Hospital. According to Denner, that order was lifted at about 9:30 a.m., but at the same time, his department was instructed to begin diverting ambulances from Gouverneur Hospital. That diversion remained in effect as of Tuesday afternoon.

“I’ve been in touch with the (Gouverneur Hospital) EMS manager since early this (Tuesday) morning,” Gouverneur Rescue Director Mark Deavers said. “They notified my crew overnight that there was some form of a failure, and when I got the messages from them, I began communicating with the nurse manager and that communication has been ongoing with updates throughout the day.”

Since receiving word about the diversion, Deavers said the rescue squad has had to make three trips to Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown as of Tuesday afternoon.

Director of Corporate Communications for the St. Lawrence Health System Tracy Jarvis confirmed computer outages were impacting operations at some facilities Tuesday afternoon, but declined to provide further information as the hospital system’s information technology staff continued working to compile details on the situation. She said more information will be released publicly later in the day Tuesday.

The DOH did confirm the outages were a result of a cyberattack, the only such confirmation available as of Tuesday afternoon.

“DOH has been in communication with St. Lawrence Hospital System which operates Canton-Potsdam Hospital and Gouverneur Hospital about a cyberattack,” a statement from the DOH noted in part. “DOH will continue to provide support to the St. Lawrence Hospital System and our partners in government in response to this cyberattack.”

St. Lawrence Health System advised via a separate release that its COVID-19 testing site currently located on Lawrence Avenue in Potsdam would not be moving on Thursday as had been initially planned.


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