Zappala: Monitor Western Psych's promised security upgrades
Allegheny County officials should make sure security upgrades at Western Psychiatric Institute & Clinic are met and withhold public funding if the hospital does not comply, District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. said Thursday.
Zappala said he is planning to send letters to Executive Rich Fitzgerald and County Council as early as Friday outlining his security concerns and the power county officials have to force the hospital to comply. He plans to attach a report from UPMC that outlines $10 million in security upgrades.
Zappala also referenced a lawsuit filed by former Western Psych receptionist Kathryn Leight, 66, of Shaler, who survived a gunshot wound to the chest during John Shick's shooting rampage in March 2012.
“The lawsuit indicates all kinds of deficiencies in how we treat mental health issues,” Zappala said.
“There's tens of millions of dollars in public money involved. Before tax dollars can be used, the county has to (ask), ‘How are you going to take care of these people?' Who's doing that? If they don't commit a criminal act, where do you put people like that? The state closed Mayview (State Hospital).” he said.
“We've been working with the DA and consultants since shortly after the shooting and have been advised by them that our response and our plans for additional improvements are excellent. We look forward to working with them going forward,” UPMC spokeswoman Gloria Krepps said. “OSHA also did a thorough investigation of the incident and issued no citations to WPIC, but instead offered a handful of recommendations to improve safety at the facility, all of which have been implemented.”
Fitzgerald's spokeswoman, Amie Downs, said the county would wait to see the district attorney's recommendations before responding.
“So if we have all these issues, we have to look at it,” Zappala said. “We have to take a hard look at how we treat mental illness in the county.”
Zappala released a safety review in November that stated nurses at Western Psych are fearful of getting hurt despite some initial security upgrades after the shootings. The nurses said their jobs at the Oakland hospital subject them to a series of hazards on a daily basis, including being approached by patients with knives and razor blades. One patient choked a nurse through an open medicine dispensary area, the report found.
Leight filed additional details in her lawsuit this week, claiming that UPMC doctors missed several opportunities to commit Shick to a mental facility before his shooting rampage. The lawsuit accuses University of Pittsburgh Physicians, UPMC and several subsidiaries of failing to act to prevent the shootings that killed therapist Mike Schaab, 25, of Regent Square and wounded Leight and four others before Pitt police killed Shick, 30, of Oakland.
Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Forbes Road Career and Technology Center students restore vehicle that will be donated
- Shooting of Pittsburgh cab driver spotlights risks of profession
- Group urges Port Authority of Allegheny County to fund more transit routes
- Renovation planned for blighted homes in Garfield
- Newsmaker: David A. Harris
- Carrick crime ‘blitz’ shows early signs of success
- Pittsburgh nonprofit 412 Food Rescue takes surplus food to needy
- Alpine touring skiing movement faces uphill climb in Western Pa.
- Pittsburgh police deliver 2,500 Thanksgiving meals through program
- Police investigating after cab driver shot in Hazelwood
- Thermal scans could resolve age-old enigmas of Egypt’s pyramids