Ransomware attack cause of CHI Memorial’s IT issues, officials confirm

Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / The Guerry Heart and Vascular Center at CHI Memorial Hospital on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022.

CHI Memorial's parent company, CommonSpirit Health, has confirmed that the ongoing IT system shutdown at several facilities is due to a ransomware attack.

CommonSpirit officials said in a statement Wednesday that they took "immediate steps to protect our systems, contain the incident, begin an investigation and ensure continuity of care" upon discovering the attack.

The statement doesn't say when the attack began or was discovered, but media reports of the incident emerged Oct. 3.

"To further assist and support our team in the investigation and response process, we engaged leading cybersecurity specialists and notified law enforcement," said the statement, which can be read in full online at bit.ly/CoSpUpdate. "We are conducting a thorough forensics investigation as we restore full functionality and reconnect our systems."

The statement did not indicate when full functionality would be restored, but it represents CommonSpirit's first public acknowledgment of what caused the shutdown, which has delayed care and forced electronic health records offline at several facilities across the nation.

(READ MORE: IT shutdown at CHI Memorial remains unresolved in Chattanooga, across the US)

In the statement, CommonSpirit lists two facilities that have seen minimal impact on operations. CHI Memorial was not listed.

"For the other parts of our health system that have seen impacts on operations, we are working diligently every day to bring systems online and restore full functionality as quickly and safely as possible," the statement said.

Chicago-based CommonSpirit Health owns 142 hospitals and roughly 2,200 health care locations across 21 states, including CHI Memorial's three hospitals and numerous other health care facilities across Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia.

In addition to the Chattanooga region, hospitals in Nebraska, Washington, Iowa and Texas are among the facilities that have been affected.

"We are providing relevant updates on the ongoing situation to our patients, employees and caregivers," the statement said. "Patient care remains our utmost priority, and we apologize for any inconvenience this matter has created."

Contact Elizabeth Fite at efite@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6673. Follow her on Twitter @ecfite.