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Holy Cross Hospital Named Among Top U.S. Hospitals
Holy Cross Hospital Named to Healthgrades 2019 America's 250 Best Hospitals for Clinical Outcomes

By KRISTIN FELICIANO
Holy Cross Health

SILVER SPRING, Md. (Feb. 14, 2019) —Holy Cross Health today announced that Holy Cross Hospital has achieved the Healthgrades 2019 America’s 250 Best Hospitals Award™. The distinction places Holy Cross Hospital in the top 5 percent of more than 4,500 hospitals assessed nationwide for its superior clinical performance as measured by Healthgrades, the leading online resource for comprehensive information about physicians and hospitals.

“I am pleased that Holy Cross Hospital once again has been recognized as one of the top-quality hospitals in the nation,” said Holy Cross Hospital President Louis A. Damiano, MD. “We are proud to have earned this award for our culture of quality and safety, and we are even prouder of all the doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and other colleagues who are committed to consistently delivering excellent care for our patients.”

Holy Cross Hospital is the only hospital in Montgomery County and one of only five in Maryland to be recognized with this award for three consecutive years.

“Consumers have several hospitals to choose from, so it’s important they understand which hospitals achieve the best clinical outcomes,” said Brad Bowman, Chief Medical Officer at Healthgrades. “Recipients of the Healthgrades America’s 250 Best Hospitals Award are setting the bar in patient care.”

From 2015 through 2017, patients treated in hospitals achieving the award had, on average, a 27.1 percent lower risk of dying than if they were treated in hospitals that did not receive the award, as measured across 19 rated conditions and procedures for which mortality is the outcome.*

And during that same period, if all hospitals performed similarly to those achieving the Healthgrades America’s 250 Best Hospitals Award, 168,165 lives could potentially have been saved.

The Holy Cross Health system has a demonstrated track record for superior performance in caring for patients across multiple service lines. As a leader in providing innovative and quality health care, Holy Cross Health has received numerous clinical awards, recognitions, designations and accreditations in areas such as joint, spine, gynecologic and bariatric surgery, as well as stroke care, women’s health and oncology.

In 2019, Holy Cross Hospital was also recognized by Healthgrades with the America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Critical Care award, the Critical Care Excellence Award, Five-Star recipient for Treatment of Sepsis, Five-Star recipient for Treatment of Pulmonary Embolism and a Five-Star for Treatment of Respiratory Failure.

For media inquiries, contact Kristin Feliciano, chief strategy officer, Holy Cross Health, at 301-754-7017. 

To learn more about how Healthgrades determines award recipients, and for more information on Healthgrades Quality Solutions, please visit www.Healthgrades.com/Quality.

To learn more about Holy Cross Health's awards and recognitions, visit www.HolyCrossHealth.org/Awards.

 

Holy Cross Health, founded in 1963 by the Sisters of the Holy Cross, is a comprehensive Catholic health care delivery system that includes two hospitals and a network of community health centers in Montgomery County, Maryland. Holy Cross Hospital, the largest hospital in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, is located on the Kevin J. Sexton Campus of Holy Cross Health in Silver Spring.

 

*Statistics are based on Healthgrades analysis of MedPAR data for years 2015 through 2017 and represent 3-year estimates for Medicare patients only.

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Legislation Would Stiffen Penalties for Ransomware Attacks

By JARED BEINART
Capital News Service

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (February 13, 2019)—Using ransomware to hold computers hostage would draw stiffer penalties under legislation—prompted in part by attacks on Maryland hospitals over the past few years—state lawmakers are considering.

The legislation, which would enforce tougher penalties for those convicted of ransomware crimes, was spurred by attacks like those on the University of Maryland Medical System in 2018 and on the Salisbury Police Department in January.

Hospitals and health care centers remain one of the most vulnerable industries to ransomware attacks, which could lead to disruptions of critical information systems, loss of data and even patient fatalities.

Maryland Senate bill 151, cross-filed with House bill 211, would define ransomware attacks that result in a loss greater than $1,000 as a felony, subject to a fine of up to $100,000 and a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Under current Maryland laws, a ransomware attack that extorts a loss less than $10,000 is considered a misdemeanor, while a breach that results in a loss greater than $10,000 is a felony.

Ransomware is a specific malware software that allows hackers to seize control of and access to computers and the data stored within those devices.

The attackers then refuse to release control of the devices and information until a ransom is paid.

Unpaid demands can create further problems for the victims: The ransom can increase or the hackers can permanently delete the data, according to a state analysis.

“Even when (victims) do pay the ransom there is not necessarily a guarantee that they will receive the data back,” Markus Rauschecker, the cybersecurity program manager for the University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security, said during a bill hearing Jan. 31.

The bill will also introduce a new criminal offense, which prohibits violators from simply possessing ransomware with the intent to use it, with an exception for researchers, according to a state analysis.

The new legislation would authorize courts to award damages and cover attorney fees and costs for the victims of an attack, according to a state analysis.

“No industry is safe from ransomware, most importantly our hospitals,” bill sponsor Sen. Susan Lee, D-Montgomery, said.

Ransomware attacks on hospitals are a continuing problem across the country and often create major problems for the facilities, including loss of lives, misdiagnoses and other technological disadvantages for doctors and patients, Lee told Capital News Service. 

In 2018, the University of Maryland Medical System’s information technology infrastructure was victim to an attempted malware infiltration.

The medical system was able to subdue the attack by implementing backup servers to ensure patient care was uninterrupted, according to a press statement.

“The most frightening part about (ransomware attacks) is that hospitals and health care sectors are especially vulnerable,” Rauschecker said. “This can ultimately mean deaths in hospitals.”

Attacks can have serious consequences due to a lack of access to electronic data or medical devices available to doctors and staff during a breach, Rauschecker said.

A 2017 Vanderbilt University research paper estimated that more than 2,000 deaths per year could be attributed to ransomware attacks on hospitals.

In 2016, Maryland’s MedStar Health system was subject to a ransomware attack that also targeted government agencies, cities and businesses around the nation. The hackers were able to get around $6 million and caused their victims to lose more than $30 million, according to a state analysis. 

Rauschecker said that ransomware attacks are one of the “fast growing” areas within cyber crime.

SonicWall, a cyber-crime security company, reported about 181.5 million ransomware attacks in the first six months of 2018—more than doubled over the same time period in 2017, but a marked decrease from the rate of attacks in 2016.

“This bill passing will be the start of raising the concern of (ransomware attacks) and how big this problem is,” Maryland State’s Attorneys’ coordinator Steve Kroll said during the bill hearing. 

In January, the Salisbury Police Department suffered a ransomware attack that affected their computer systems, including email and network servers, as well as its record management systems, Capt. Rich Kaiser said.

Kaiser emphasized that while the department had no access to data during the attack, there is no evidence of police department data being stolen due to an “intricate file backup system.”

Kevin Kornegay, a professor in the school of electrical and computer engineering at Morgan State University, theorizes that while cyber breaches are targeting big corporations, ransomware attacks remain a “massive threat to small (and) mid-sized businesses,” which in many instances often go unreported.

This is because ransomware attacks have commonly been found in “phishing emails” and websites with clickbait—often the attacks are minor—and small businesses tend not to report them, according to Kornegay.

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