Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Community Health System data breach hits millions, possibly including Bayfront clinic patients

Community Health Systems, which owns Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, said cyberattackers stole Social Security numbers and other information of about 4.5 million patients treated by its affiliated physician groups but no medical or credit card records were taken.

MELISSA LYTTLE | Times

Community Health Systems, which owns Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, said cyberattackers stole Social Security numbers and other information of about 4.5 million patients treated by its affiliated physician groups but no medical or credit card records were taken.

The parent company of Bayfront Health St. Petersburg says criminal cyberattackers stole Social Security numbers and other information of about 4.5 million patients treated by its affiliated physician groups.

Tennessee-based Community Health Systems — which also owns Bayfront Health Spring Hill, Bayfront Health Brooksville and Bayfront Health Dade City — said Monday that no medical or credit card records were taken in the attack, which may have happened in April and June. But Community said the attack did bypass its security systems to take patient names, addresses, birth dates, and telephone and Social Security numbers.

The data breach affects patients who were treated at the company's clinics, not those who were solely hospital patients, said Susan Frimmel, spokeswoman for Bayfront Spring Hill. The clinics all use the same software that was hacked, she said.

Community has not yet released a list of affected clinics. In the Tampa Bay area, the company's affiliated clinics include Bayfront Health Medical Group locations and such offices as My Gynecologist in Spring Hill and Women's Health of Pasco in Dade City.

"We take very seriously the security and confidentiality of private patient information and we sincerely regret any concern or inconvenience this event may cause for our patients," the company said in a statement. "Though we have no reason to believe that this data would ever be used, all affected patients are being notified by letter and offered free identity theft protection."

Bayfront St. Petersburg's spokeswoman, Elena Mesa, said only that she had no information on the local impact. She declined to make Bayfront Health CEO Kathryn Gillette available for an interview.

The data breach is the latest hurdle for Bayfront St. Petersburg. After a century as a not-for-profit institution, Bayfront was taken over in 2013 by the Naples for-profit hospital chain Health Management Associates.

Even before that buyout was complete, HMA was already facing allegations — aired on CBS's 60 Minutes — that doctors were pressured to make admission quotas to fill the chain's hospital beds. Allegations snowballed with an expanding federal whistle-blower investigation and other claims of kickbacks at the company.

Then last year Community Health swooped in and bought HMA facilities, including Bayfront, Pasco Regional Medical Center, Brooksville Regional Hospital and Spring Hill Regional Hospital, in a $7.6 million deal. They have all been rebranded with the Bayfront name.

The company is in the process of setting up a toll-free hotline for patients concerned about their data.

After the news broke Monday, Frimmel said her phone in Spring Hill had been ringing off the hook from patients nervous that their information had been stolen.

"I've got message after message," she said.

Community Health, which owns, leases or operates 206 hospitals in 29 states, said it believes the attack came from a group in China that used sophisticated malware and technology to get the information. Community has since removed the malware from its system and finalized "other remediation efforts" to prevent future attacks.

The attack follows other high-profile data security problems that have hit retailers like the e-commerce site eBay and Target Corp. Last year, hackers stole from Target about 40 million debit and credit card numbers and personal information for 70 million people.

Shares of Community Health climbed 38 cents to $51.38 late Monday morning, while broader trading indexes also rose less than 1 percent.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report. Contact Jodie Tillman at jtillman@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3374. Follow @JTillmanTimes.

Community Health System data breach hits millions, possibly including Bayfront clinic patients 08/18/14 [Last modified: Monday, August 18, 2014 10:41pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs WR DeSean Jackson knows only one direction: full speed ahead

    Sports

    TAMPA — DeSean Jackson is the "1."

    Actually, Jackson, the Bucs' latest weapon for quarterback Jameis Winston, with his blazing speed and game-changing splash plays, wears No. 11 in games.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson participates in an "open OTA practice" at One Buc Place, the team's training facility, in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
  2. Karen Bail, who helped Gibbs kids get to Broadway, retires

    Stage

    ST. PETERSBURG — When neatnicks retire, they leave no trace behind. Their desks are clean, like a runway after the plane has taken off.

    Retiring musical theatre teacher Karen Bail warms up seniors Jonathan O'Brien, left, as Juan Peron and Addam Setzer as Che Guevara before the dress rehearsal of Pinellas County Center for the Arts (PCCA) magnet program's production of "Evita" at Gibbs High School in St. Petersburg, FL,  April 24, 2017.  The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical ran for three days in April at the school and was PCCA's last play of the year. CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times
  3. Florida's economy growing faster than other big states and far better than U.S. overall

    Business

    When it comes to economic growth, Florida's running alongside the leading states and well ahead of the United States as a whole.

  4. Florida wrestling forefathers to be honored

    Human Interest

    TAMPA -- Nicole Alonso and Belinda Romano never had to worry about defending their fathers in a "my dad can beat up your dad" kind of argument.

    A building at the Boys Ranch in Live Oaks was once named in honor of Tampa wrestler Eddie Graham for his financial contributions to the residential care facility for troubled boys.
  5. Tampa's bid for fifth Super Bowl means secret and expensive promises to NFL

    Tourism

    TAMPA — Before Tampa is officially named the host of the 2021 Super Bowl, local organizers have 90 days to convince NFL owners the city can meet certain conditions.

    What are they? That's top secret.