NEWARK, NJ – A shocking incident unfolded Friday morning at Newark Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey. Two nurses and a medical resident were stabbed inside the pediatric intensive care unit of the hospital. Authorities have arrested a woman in connection with the attack.
The incident took place around 7 a.m. and was reportedly the result of a “domestic dispute” involving two visitors to the hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit, as per a statement released by the hospital on social media. The suspect, identified as 37-year-old Firdousi Abdul-Hakim, allegedly attacked the hospital workers, leaving them with stab wounds.
Fritz Fragé, Newark’s public safety director, confirmed that the victims are stable. Abdul-Hakim now faces multiple charges, including aggravated assault, unlawful possession of a weapon, and possession of a gun for illegal purposes.
The hospital quickly responded to the incident, with Abdul-Hakim being arrested immediately. In their statement, the hospital assured that no patients or family members were injured during the incident. It is a relief to many that the situation was swiftly controlled, preventing further harm to the hospital’s staff or patients.
Attempts to reach Abdul-Hakim for comment have so far yet to be successful. A message left at a possible phone number for the suspect was not immediately returned, while other numbers were found non-operational.
The identities of the injured nurses and the medical residents have not been disclosed, respecting their privacy during this difficult time. The hospital has not released further details about the incident, focusing on the recovery of the injured staff and maintaining the safety and functioning of the hospital.
Newark Beth Israel Hospital is a significant medical facility in the city. With a 655-bed capacity, it is a teaching hospital that employs more than 800 doctors and 3,200 employees. The hospital has a long history, dating back to 1901, and is an integral part of the Newark community.
This incident has underscored the potential dangers that healthcare workers can face, even within the confines of a hospital. It brings attention to the need for enhanced security measures in healthcare facilities to ensure the safety of the staff and the patients.
As the investigation continues, the hospital, the city of Newark, and indeed the entire healthcare community will be looking for answers – and solutions to prevent such incidents from happening in the future.
This comes in light of a recent string of cyber attacks on Hospitals. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced plans to increase federal funding for vulnerable rural hospitals in response to cyberattacks that have forced ambulances from American hospitals to be rerouted. The department is also considering imposing stricter penalties for healthcare providers who fail to maintain adequate security measures.
The HHS shared its new plan on Wednesday, acknowledging that the current state of frequent cyber disruptions in the healthcare sector is unsustainable. According to HHS Deputy Secretary Andrea Palm, the department and hospital executives must do more to address this issue.
Palm described the situation as an “urgent threat,” highlighting the need for rural hospitals and other financially struggling facilities to invest in technology and security practices to keep pace.
The announcement follows a ransomware attack on healthcare conglomerate Ardent Health Services on Thanksgiving Day, which led to ambulances being redirected from emergency rooms across several states. Over the past nine months, similar cyberattacks have caused ambulance diversions in Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, and Pennsylvania.
The HHS plan aims to provide more funds and training to hospitals that need to establish basic cybersecurity protections. The department is also prepared to use various authorities, including monetary fines, to compel and encourage healthcare organizations to secure their systems better. The plan suggests using critical federal programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, to introduce new hospital cybersecurity requirements.
However, many crucial details are yet to be finalized. HHS officials have indicated that they need a substantial increase in funding from Congress to implement the plan but did not disclose the estimated cost. The plan’s success may also depend on the effectiveness and enforceability of cybersecurity metrics for healthcare providers, which are still being developed in collaboration with industry insiders. The department will also need to collaborate with Congress to increase fines for violations related to failing to protect health information from hackers.
The situation’s urgency stems from the fact that cyberattacks can significantly threaten patient safety. A federal study conducted in 2021 found that a ransomware attack can disrupt patient care and strain hospital resources for weeks or even months.
Experts have pointed out that small healthcare providers nationwide often need more funds and expertise to handle cyberattacks. According to Joshua Cormanneedcurity, an expert in the health sector, many small health clinics still need a dedicated cybersecurity staff member.
According to Corman, the health sector, designated as “critical infrastructure” by the federal government, has been the most disrupted by ransomware attacks. These disruptions are more frequent, extensive, and longer, posing the most significant risk to life safety.
The situation is so severe that some hospitals never recover from these hacking incidents. For instance, a hospital in Illinois had to shut down in June partly due to a cyberattack that disabled its billing department.
Federal policies have historically been unable to keep up with the growing threat, necessitating significant changes to ensure public trust and safety, said Corman.