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Private Information At Risk After Hospital Files Were Stolen

Letters were sent out to patients whose personal hospital records might have been stolen.

On December 23, 2010, a truck operated by GRM Information Management Systems, an information storage organization based in Manhattan, was broken into while unattended by its driver and parked on a street in Harlem.

The truck contained electronic files of some 1.7 million patients, employees and vendors of the North Bronx Healthcare Network, which includes Jacobi Medical Center, North Central Bronx Hospital, the Health Center at Gun Hill and the Health Center at Tremont, from 1991 until December 2010.

Canisters containing these electronic files were stolen, which may contain individual private information such as names, addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers, medical record numbers, mother’s maiden name and hospital treatment data.

Immediately after the files were stolen, an investigation was launched by the NYPD, however, the data still has not been recovered nor has anyone who might have been involved in the robbery been identified.

On Friday, February 11, the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation began sending out letters to those whose files are suspected of being stolen, and HHC president Alan D. Aviles is extremely concerned about Bronx residents privacy.

“We value and protect privacy and confidentiality and deeply regret any inconvenience and concern this may create for our patients, staff and others affected,” Aviles said. “HHC is taking responsibility and are providing information and services to any affected individual who may be concerned.”

The North Bronx Healthcare Network has teamed up with Debix, an identity protection program that will provide free credit monitoring services for a year for all affected patients, as well as Fraud Resolution Services to restore any affected individual’s credit to its original status in the event of identity theft.

Determined to make sure that this situation will not happen again in the future, HHC immediately terminated the contract with GRM Information Management Systems, who fired the unnamed employee, who was in charge of the truck that was broken into, right after the incident.

HHC has also filed a lawsuit against GRM and are holding them responsible for dealing with the costs that it will take in notifying all the potentially affected individuals and to also pay for any other damages associated with the loss of the data.

Senator Jeff Klein was immediately notified of the situation and was glad that HHC sent out letters to those who affected, saying that a situation like this is very serious and can cause a lot of concern for Bronx residents.

“When personal records are stolen, that means we’re dealing with a high possibility of identity theft,” Klein said. “We need to make sure that the residents of the Bronx who may have been affected by this are protected from any future theft of personal information and we are determined to make sure this matter is resolved quickly.”

According to Klein, a meeting has been set up with the North Bronx Healthcare Network for the first week of March to begin exploring new options in helping protect the Bronx residents.

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