Topeka What was supposed to be a “never event” — the crash of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment computer system — became a real event recently, causing a lot of heartburn and costing a lot of money, officials said Monday.
The problems started Aug. 5 when a hardware failure began cascading through the system, affecting 85 percent of KDHE’s servers and putting out of reach millions of records, from marriage certificates to immunization files.
“This outage has caused many problems for Kansans and we are very sorry for the inconvenience this has caused,” said KDHE Secretary Roderick Bremby. Bremby noted it couldn’t have come at a worse time because of the start of school and accompanying demand for birth certificates and immunization records.
Lisa Horn, spokeswoman for the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department, said its 40 employees were affected by the outage. They were unable to access immunization records, the state’s disease surveillance system, and child care licensing records. Employees also couldn’t access appointments for WIC, a federally funded health and nutrition program for women, infants and children.
“It affected everybody,” she said.
She said the department made do by heavily using the fax machine and keeping good paper records.
“It was a really, really tough time for us to not be able to access those servers,” Horn said.
Bremby described the failure of the system and its backup checks as a “never event” that will end up costing the state and vendor “north of $600,000 to $700,000.”
The state has already spent $12,540 and 458 employee hours to work on the situation.
But Bremby said that despite the failure, no data has been compromised or lost and that the agency is “on the road to recovery.”
KDHE is now restoring 25 terabytes of data. The agency still cannot receive e-mails but Bremby said he hoped to have most systems back in operation by the end of this week.