NASHVILLE, Tenn. (NEWSnet/AP) — A ransomware attack last week prompted a health care chain that operates 30 hospitals in six states to direct some patients to other hospitals and put other appointments on hold.

In a statement Monday, Ardent Health Services said the attack occurred Nov. 23 and the company took its network offline, suspending user access to its information technology applications, including the software used to document patient care.

Ardent sent patients from at least some of its emergency rooms to other hospitals, while putting certain elective procedures on pause, the company announced.

The Nashville, Tennessee-based company said it cannot yet confirm the extent of any patient health or financial information that has been compromised. Ardent says it reported the issue to law enforcement and retained third-party forensic and threat intelligence advisors, while working with cybersecurity specialists to restore IT functions as quickly as possible. There's no timeline yet on when the problems will be resolved.

Ardent owns and operates 30 hospitals and more than 200 care sites with upwards of 1,400 aligned providers in Oklahoma, Texas, New Jersey, New Mexico, Idaho and Kansas.

All of its hospitals are continuing to provide medical screenings and stabilizing care to patients arriving at emergency rooms, the company said.

“Ardent’s hospitals are currently operating on divert, which means hospitals are asking local ambulance services to transport patients in need of emergency care to other area hospitals,” the company said on its website. “This ensures critically ill patients have immediate access to the most appropriate level of care.”

The company said each hospital is evaluating its ability to safely care for patients at its emergency room, and updates on each hospital's status will be provided as efforts to bring them back online continue.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. Ransomware criminals do not usually admit to an attack unless the victim refuses to pay.

Analyst Brett Callow at the cybersecurity firm Emsisoft said 25 U.S. healthcare systems with 290 hospitals were hit last year while this year the number is 36 with 128 hospitals.

“We desperately need to find ways to better protect our hospitals. These incidents put patients’ lives at risk — especially when ambulances need to be diverted — and the fact that nobody appears to have yet died is partly due to luck, and that luck will eventually run out,” Callow added.                    

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