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Officials say it's too early to know depth of breach after East Tennessee Children's Hospital hit by 'IT security issue'

On Monday morning the hospital said its phone system went down. Later that afternoon, it said its cyber forensics team and outside agencies were actively responding.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — East Tennessee Children's Hospital said Monday its cyber forensics teams and outside agencies were responding after it fell victim to an unspecified "information technology security issue."

ETCH said the issue occurred Sunday evening.

"Maintaining the safety and security of our patients and their care is our top priority. We are still able to care for our patients. Our cyber forensics teams and outside agencies are doing everything possible to minimize any disruption. The response is active and still ongoing,” ETCH said.

On Monday morning, the hospital said it was dealing with a phone service outage. Regular appointments with pediatricians and specialists were held as scheduled, but the hospital was unable to provide a timeline for when service would be restored.

In a statement on Tuesday, Matthew Schaefer, ETCH president and CEO, said the hospital has processes to continue to care for patients as its cyber forensics teams and outside agencies investigate.

“East Tennessee Children’s Hospital (ETCH) continues to care for our patients as we address the ongoing information technology issue. We have processes to ensure we can safely and effectively care for our patients in these circumstances. We want our community to know that if a child needs our services, do not delay care as we are able to treat any child who needs our expert care. While the response to the I.T. issue remains active and ongoing, our cyber forensics teams and outside agencies are doing everything possible to minimize any disruptions. We would like to thank the community for trusting us with the healthcare of our children and thank our team, whose dedication is unparalleled in this region. Thank you for your patience, understanding and partnership. We will provide updated information as it is available.”

Officials said safety is the hospital's top concern. It has computer downtime processes in place and practices them often to ensure "its team members are able to care for children/patients in these circumstances." 

A spokesperson said it is still too early to know the depth of the breach.

This story is developing and will be updated.

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