Appalachian Regional Hospitals in Beckley and Summers County computer systems were breached Saturday afternoon, but company officials were tight-lipped as to the extent or what information was seized by the hackers.

The hospitals' parent company, Appalachian Regional Healthcare, issued a two-paragraph statement that their hospitals in West Virginia and Kentucky are on an Emergency Operations Plan, after hackers planted a computer virus in its electronic web-based services and electronic communications.

A spokesperson for ARH said all computers were shut down to prevent further spreading of the virus, which affected Beckley Appalachian Regional Hospital and Summers County Appalachian Regional Hospital in Hinton.

By Saturday afternoon, all patient care, registration, medication, imaging and laboratory services were managed manually. 

"All critical patients are being assessed to determine if they should be transferred to another medical facility for care," said Melissa Cornett, marketing and communication manager for ARH.

Jan Care Ambulance Services said it could not comment on whether it transferred patients from BARH to another medical facility Saturday evening. Best Ambulance Services reported it did not transport patients.

Law enforcement in both counties said they received no reports of the hospitals being hacked and are not investigating the matter.

Both facilities' emergency rooms continued to operate Saturday.

Ted Weigel, BARH's spokesperson, said all information had to come from the hospital's Lexington, Ky., headquarters. He would not answer if confidential medical information was breached or if Social Security numbers were stolen. 

"I was told by corporate that I could not answer any questions. All information must come from them," he said.

An official with the Summers County ARH, who would only give his first name as Mark, said, "All I can say is we are part of ARH."

An email sent to Cornett seeking additional details was not returned before a 9:30 p.m. deadline. "I'm still gathering information – not sure if I will be able to meet today's deadline," her response read.

Calls to the office of Rocco Massey, BARH's head, went unanswered Saturday evening.

ARH operates 11 hospitals in southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky. Beckley and Hinton are its only West Virginia operations, according to the company's website.

— Email: dtyson@register-herald.com

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