Two Phoebe employees fired over missing computer

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Officials have confirmed that two Phoebe employees have been fired over a missing computer.

Phoebe sent WALB a statement Thursday saying Albany Police are investigating, but it stopped short of saying the computer was stolen.

Phoebe officials say a computer forensics investigation showed only 13 people's social security numbers were recorded on that missing computer hard drive. But it contained names, addresses, and possibly medical diagnosis information of nearly 6,800 people.

According to the November 7th police report, a hospital employee rearranging her office at the Behavioral Health Outreach Clinic boxed up her Dell desktop computer and left it outside her office in a locked hallway. The next morning it was gone.

"There was a custodial worker who believed that the computer, because it was inside a box, was trash," said Phoebe Vice President, Chief Compliance and Privacy Officer Audrey Pike. "And so the box was discarded. According to the police report he threw it in the dumpster, but when they checked the next day it was gone.

Phoebe said so far they have no evidence that computer has been turned on, or the information in it stolen.

"At this point we do not have any additional information that gives us any sense that the computer will be retrieved," said Pike. "But again we do not have any reason to believe that it has been accessed in any way."

Phoebe officials say patient privacy is a top priority and the law, and two employees were fired for breaking institution policy.

"Prohibit the saving of information to the actual computer hard drive itself," said Pike "The individual who has done that is no longer with Phoebe."

Phoebe officials say only information services employees are allowed to move computers, so the employee who broke that policy was also fired.

6,777 people received letters from Phoebe explaining that the missing computer might contain information like their name, address, date of birth, doctors name and diagnosis information. But most of their financial information was not on it.

"Only 13 individuals had social security numbers on the computer," said Pike. "None of other individuals had social security numbers or financial information."

Phoebe officials say they understand their customers and patients have serious concerns, especially in light of recent identity theft crimes.

They have set up a telephone call center to answer people's questions and concerns, and are offering those affected credit monitoring services.

Phoebe officials also told me they are reinforcing their training to employees so something like this won't happen again.

Phoebe is getting a lot of calls from concerned patients.

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