Data breach discovered at shuttered OSU program helping veterans deal with PTSD

NBC4 Investigates

COLULMBUS (WCMH) — NBC4 Investigates is learning more about what happened inside a state-funded pilot program that was meant to help veterans manage psychological issues before it abruptly paused and prematurely ended.

Veterans NOW (short for Neuromodulation Operation Wellness) was a pilot program designed to treat mental issues veterans face, including post-traumatic stress and substance abuse, without the use of pharmaceuticals.

The program was put on pause in early March and brought back without its lead doctor. Veterans NOW officially folded on June 15, despite being funded through the month of June.

NBC4 Investigates has since learned that personal information of patients enrolled in the program was compromised before the program was paused.

Thomas Paschal, an Air Force veteran who was enrolled in the program, shared a letter he received from OSUWMC’s Office of Compliance and Integrity dated June 14, informing him that his information had been compromised.

According to the letter, information including Paschal’s home address, Social Security number, and medical history may have been accessed.

The letter stated that the Office of Compliance and Integrity had learned of the breach on April 27, and that it had occurred some time between Jan. 25 and March 4.

According to public records, Veterans NOW was paused on March 4 following what an OSWMC spokesperson called non-compliance issues.

The spokesperson would not confirm whether the information breach was the non-compliance issue that led to the program’s pause. She said the breach was revealed during a required evaluation and that those affected have been notified. She declined to answer specific questions about the breach, citing patient privacy concerns.

In his letter, Paschal was given instructions on how to protect his identity. He said he was unlikely to follow those instructions because of his distrust in the hospital.

“I don’t trust Ohio State now,” Paschal said. “I don’t think Ohio State has veterans’ interests at heart at all, based on how they handled the whole, the whole situation.”

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