(Mike Monaghan MyWestNipissingNow.com staff)
The new COVID-19 dashboard on the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit’s website has been removed.
Less than a month after creating the tool, health unit officials say it has been taken down after accidentally leaking personal information through the dashboard. Officials say the dashboard was designed to contain information related to the number of COVID-19 tests and confirmed cases in the local community.
Officials say information that was accidentally made accessible was first and last name, municipality, unique identifying number (but not OHIP number), testing date and location, and the test result (if available). Telephone numbers might have also been made available. There was no other health, financial, or personal information accessible through the dashboard.
“Our team has been working around the clock to ensure our community is safe, cared for, and has access to accurate and timely information as we collectively battle COVID-19,” said Dr. Jim Chirico, Medical Officer of Health. “We also take very seriously our obligation to respect and maintain individual privacy. This mistake should not have happened, and I am very sorry it did.”
Officials say the breach was reported to the health unit from a member of the public. The belief is the likelihood of someone else having accessed the information is quite low, because it was not immediately visible, and accessing it required a number of steps that were not obvious. Once made aware of the breach, the health unit launched an investigation.
Health unit officials add the privacy breach affects those whose permanent address is within the health unit’s catchment area and were tested before or on May 8.
“We are reviewing our training and quality processes to ensure such mistakes do not happen again,” continued Dr. Chirico.
Officials say those affected will be contacted by telephone or mail. The incident has also been reported to the proper authorities, including the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario. Those who have questions are asked to call the health unit’s call centre at 1-800-563-2808 and select option 7, or through their website.