Stolen Computer Had Patients' Personal Data

February 2, 2006

By T.J. Wilham, Journal Staff Writer

Credit card and Social Security numbers for as many as 450 patients of the Presbyterian Health Care Service have been stolen.

On Tuesday, Albuquerque police arrested Eloise Orona, 45, on suspicion of stealing a computer containing the information, according to a Metropolitan Court criminal complaint.

Orona, a former billing clerk for Presbyterian, faces charges of burglary, theft and identity theft. She was booked into the West Side jail on a $35,000 bond.

Orona, who had been fired shortly before the Jan. 12 incident, is accused of breaking into an office and stealing the computer, the complaint states.

The computer, which has not been recovered, contained addresses, names, Social Security numbers, dates of births and phone and credit card numbers of Presbyterian Hospital patients and physicians, court records state. Orona worked for a company that was hired by Presbyterian to do its billing.

Investigators said they suspect the reason for the computer theft "would be for the sale of it for its criminal misuse or for identity theft situations," the complaint states.

"There is no telling what could have happened with all of these people's IDs," said Trish Hoffman, an APD spokeswoman.

So far, none of the Presbyterian patients or physicians has come forward claiming they have had credit problems.

In the meantime, Presbyterian Hospital officials have called or mailed all of the patients whose records could have been on the computer. They have offered free credit checks.

Presbyterian spokesman Todd Sandman said that if the computer is in the wrong hands, there is a chance the information might not be accessible because the computer was password protected.

"We are reasonably confident that stealing the computer would not give you the contents of the computer," he said.

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