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“They just had the opportunity to show their true character of courage and perseverance, rising to the occasion, as they do each and every day. They are amazing and truly shined.”

Published Jun 26th, 2024

Imagine navigating the world of healthcare with solutions that the digital revolution made nearly obsolete — not just for a few hours or a day, but for nearly a month. USA Health Providence associates did just that until the hospital’s core electronic medical record (EMR) was restored on June 6, after a ransomware attack on May 8.    

Instead of celebrating National Nurses Week or Alabama Hospital Month in May, associates poured even more of their time and energy into patient care, such as putting in longer hours to complete tasks like paper charting.    

While the recognition of annual events was delayed, the internal celebration was more than well-deserved when it was held last week.   

That’s when USA Health Providence associates were recognized with nurse awards, “thank you” cards from their colleagues and by members of the leadership team who expressed their gratitude in person.    

“Our staff had a genuine sense of joy and happiness last week,” said Rick Metzger, MMHC, BSN, assistant administrator and interim CEO of USA Health Providence. “It was palpable throughout the hospital.”   

Dress-up days during the week featured employees who did everything from showcasing their inner superhero to kicking up their feet in Western wear.    

“It was important to have this event to recognize our staff's diligence and focus during our downtime,” Metzger said, “and also to keep all of our patients safe and continue to serve our community.”   

Those extra efforts did not go unnoticed by Owen Bailey, MSHA, FACHE, chief executive officer and senior vice president of medical affairs for USA Health, and John Marymont, M.D., MBA, dean of the Frederick P. Whiddon College of Medicine and vice president for medical affairs.   

“This could not have been accomplished without the hard work and dedication of countless members of the USA Health team — everyone from IT to clinical and support staff who volunteered to serve where they were needed in the last few weeks,” according to a joint statement they issued when the EMR was restored.   

Though Providence Hospital was acquired by the University of South Alabama in 2023, Providence temporarily remains on some of Ascension Healthcare’s information technology systems. The ransomware attack affected Ascension Healthcare systems in 14 states and the District of Columbia.

“True character is revealed in the hardest of times,” Metzger said. “We didn't really learn anything new about our staff – they just had the opportunity to show their true character of courage and perseverance, rising to the occasion, as they do each and every day. They are amazing and truly shined.” 

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