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Sutter Health experiencing systemwide communications failure

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Sutter Health experienced a systemwide problem with its electronic communications systems Tuesday, including its internal communications systems and electronic health records, officials said.

The “network outage” began around 10:30 p.m. Monday and affected all 24 hospitals in the Sutter system. It was caused by the activation of the fire- suppression system in Sutter Health’s data center in Sacramento, according to an internal message sent by text to Sutter employees.

“This has impacted access to certain information systems, the service desk and some phone systems,” the message read.

The health care giant’s emergency management system, known as SHEMS, was activated Monday night. The system is an incident command system triggered in the event of a catastrophe, providing organizational structure to help Sutter affiliates maintain patient care.

Sutter employees were asked to report to work as scheduled. Staff at Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital said Tuesday the hospital’s electronic health records system was completely down.

Dean Fryer, a Sutter Health spokesman based in San Francisco, said multiple Sutter Health facilities and affiliates across its region have been affected, though some systems came back online throughout the day Tuesday.

Patient information at some facilities was being recorded using paper records, to be entered into the health care giant’s computer systems once the problems are resolved, said Fryer.

“Everything that would be put into a computer is being put on paper and will be entered into computers later,” Fryer said. “We have procedures in place… It’s all about patient safety.”

Fryer said no surgeries at Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital were canceled or delayed and patients were being seen. But several of Sutter's facilities in other regions canceled some surgeries and were rescheduling.

At the local hospital, a security guard told patient visitors that staff were unable look up patient information. Only visitors who knew the rooms where patients were staying were being allowed to enter, the security guard said.

Fryer said there is no estimate on when Sutter’s electronic patient care and communications system will be fully back online. He said some electronic health records were operating late Tuesday morning as “read- only.”

You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 707-521-5213 or martin.espinoza@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @renofish.

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