Written by Gideon Bradshaw / News Editor
The lower level of the William Pitt Union will remain closed until mid-August for renovations.
Volpatt Construction, the contracting company that began working on the project last week, will demolish the ceiling and floor in the lower level of the building and install new ones. Volpatt Construction will also renovate Schenley Cafe, the dining area located in the Union’s lower level.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 May 2013 05:24
Written by Gideon Bradshaw / News Editor
Pitt professor Louis A. Picard said that the U.S. government must promote stability in the developing world in order to combat the violent extremist groups that these nations harbor.
“You cannot use military threat alone,” he said.
Last month, Pitt formally signed a $2.6 million contract, which it will share with the Mitchell Group, a research firm based in Washington, D.C. Under the contract, Pitt and the Mitchell Group will evaluate programs that USAID, the U.S. government’s primary international development agency, has implemented in parts of West Africa. The U.S. government has been concerned in recent years about the vulnerability of the historically unstable region to violent extremism.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 04:08
Written by Kathleen Fennell / Staff Writer
Four Pitt students will ride in style for one month this summer thanks to their hard work, the Ford Motor Company and the “Intern Queen,” Lauren Berger.
Pitt students Adam Gaus, Nicolette Bevec, Sara Klein and Arie Lombardozzi were crowned winners of the 2013 College Ambassador Challenge, beating students from more than four other universities after competing in three different marketing challenges this spring. Each team member received $500, an all-expense-paid trip to Chicago to meet with Ford executives and the opportunity to drive a Ford vehicle for one month.
The group of Pitt students competed against teams from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Louisville, University of Michigan and University of Minnesota. These universities were selected based on Great Lakes Marketing’s five different regions and their past engagements with Berger.
David Mason, Ford’s Marketing Development Manager, said that the purpose of the College Ambassador Challenge was to provide students with real-life experiences and teach them to market products in innovative ways.
“From Ford Motor Company’s standpoint, we wanted to understand better how to market to the millennials and provide a good learning experience as well ... It’s kind of Ford giving back to the university with real-world experiences, and, of course, at the same time, Ford was learning as well,” Mason said.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 04:07
Written by Gideon Bradshaw / News Editor
A former employee of Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic who was injured in last year’s shooting and her husband are now seeking damages from Pitt.
An attorney for Kathryn and John Leight presented an amended complaint April 29 before an Allegheny County court. According to the amended complaint, which is more than 80 pages long, the couple is suing Pitt. They also included UPMC and its affiliates the Re:Solve Crisis Network, University of Pittsburgh Physicians and Susan Shick, the mother of the man who carried out the shooting. In the original complaint, the Leights sought damages only from the estate of the shooter.
On March 8, 2012, John Shick, who had previously been evaluated at Western Psych and whom physicians had identified as schizophrenic, entered Western Psych with two semi-automatic handguns and opened fire. He shot one person fatally and wounded six others, including Kathryn Leight, before Pitt police officers fatally shot him.
Leight suffered two gunshot wounds in her chest and abdomen, which pierced one of her lungs and damaged other internal organs. These injuries have required multiple surgeries.
“She greatly appreciates that her life was saved due to the prompt medical care,” said attorney Mark Homyak, who is representing Leight and her husband.
But the shooting has left its marks.
In addition to Leight’s physical injuries, she has also suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder since the incident.
Unlike the first complaint, which Homyak filed last June, the amended complaint draws extensively on events from Shick’s medical records. Homyak said he obtained the records after serving a request to the attorney for Shick’s estate, David Rosenberg.
Rosenberg did not respond to a request for comment.
The Leights are seeking damages from Pitt, alleging that the University failed to ensure that UPMC implemented suitable security measures at Western Psych. Even though Pitt, which owns Western Psych, had delegated management of the clinic to UPMC, the University was still legally responsible for providing adequate security. The complaint argues that Pitt could have reasonably expected patients’ behavior to pose a danger to Leight and taken additional measures, including security guards and a clear, protective barrier at the receptionist’s desk.
Pitt spokeswoman Cara Masset said that the University does not comment on pending legal cases.
The complaint alleges that UPMC maintained inadequate security at Western Psych, although it could expect “that the conduct of some of the Western Psych patients entering the lobby posed an unreasonable risk of physical harm to individuals working at the receptionist desk.”
The complaint also alleges that the Re:Solve Crisis Network — a UPMC entity that provides mental health crisis intervention services — and University of Pittsburgh Physicians should have taken steps to have Shick involuntarily committed but did not.
In an April 29 statement, UPMC said that the Leights’ complaint “falls far short of the standards required to impose responsibility for [Shick’s] actions on UPMC, its constituent organizations or any of their dedicated professionals.”
UPMC spokeswoman Gloria Kreps said that since the shooting, UPMC has placed security guards in the lobby of Western Psych.
Kreps said that UPMC had no additional comment.
In order to argue that doctors should have had Shick committed well before the shooting, the complaint lays out a lengthy history of his illness and involvement with UPMC and its affiliates.
Shick, who was 30 when he carried out the shooting, was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was 23. Authorities in both New York City and Portland, Ore., had Shick involuntarily committed on five separate occasions.
One of these commitments began in April of 2008 after Shick flooded his New York City apartment. When firefighters arrived, he threatened them with a knife. Police then forcefully restrained him, and a court ordered psychiatric treatment for him.
In addition to getting involuntarily committed in New York City, Shick was also committed in Portland, Ore., after he tried to attack an airport security guard with a flashlight.
In the portions of the amended complaint that detail Shick’s behavior, a pattern emerges. While Shick was undergoing treatment, he remained stable. When Shick felt stable, he would stop taking psychiatric medication, resulting in delusional and aggressive behavior.
He entered graduate programs at Portland State University and Duquesne University, but left both programs after less than a semester. At Duquesne, at least five women complained that Shick harassed them, according to the amended complaint.
Shick, as part of his illness, frequently sought care from physicians for legitimate or perceived ailments while denying that he suffered from schizophrenia. Instead, he often claimed that his symptoms stemmed from physical causes. Consequently, he saw a range of different specialists for a broad spectrum of complaints, ranging from a potassium deficiency to erectile dysfunction.
Between his move to Pittsburgh in June 2011 and the shooting at Western Psych, Shick saw more than 15 different doctors affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Physicians and UPMC, including psychiatrists at Western Psych and mobile teams from Re:Solve visited Shick’s apartment twice in February. Several doctors, including those who eventually told him they would no longer treat him, expressed concerns about his mental health to one another.
Also in a February 2012 letter, Shick warned one of the doctors he was seeing at UPMC Family Medicine in Shadyside to be careful that month, according to the complaint.
He also sent emails, characterized in the complaint as “grandiose, confused and disjointed,” which identified UPMC doctors by name and criticized the care they provided in numerous medical departments as well as other physicians in the U.S. and one in India.
Later that month, a UCLA gastroenterologist who received one of these messages emailed a UPMC doctor whom Shick identified, expressing concern that Shick was probably a paranoid schizophrenic. He also copied Shick’s email into his own.
“I wondered if you remembered this gentleman, or have any insight about what he is trying to do, or whether he poses a real threat to you, me, or anyone else he is contacting,” the doctor wrote in his email, which the complaint provides in full.
The UPMC physician who received the UCLA doctor’s email thanked the doctor and forwarded it to his colleagues. During this exchange, the UCLA doctor noted that Shick also sent him a written letter in which he criticized UPMC and its personnel and accused them of denying him treatment. The UPMC doctor said he would contact the “risk management/legal department.”
Although the amended complaint is uncertain about whether the doctor contacted that department, it notes that UPMC “failed to investigate and/or take any action in regard to Shick.”
The team from Re:Solve visited Shick’s apartment for the first time after a UPMC doctor said he was afraid that Shick’s psychotic behavior posed a threat. A team went to Shick’s apartment again after his mother asked a Re:Solve employee to encourage Shick to agree to hospitalization.
According to the amended complaint, the doctors and other professionals who saw Shick during this time could have had Shick involuntarily committed but ultimately did not.
The Leights are also seeking damages from Susan Shick, the mother of John Shick, who was sailing in the Bahamas at the time of the shooting.
In the amended complaint, the Leights allege that she failed to inform employees from Re:Solve and University of Pittsburgh Physicians of her son’s history of violence when he refused to take his medication, even though she was aware of previous occasions when authorities had him involuntarily committed.
The complaint alleges that Susan Shick knew that close family support could help control her son’s symptoms.
“Nevertheless, Susan attempted to take control of her son’s life from a distance, while she continued to live extremely geographically far from him,” the complaint says.
It also notes that several UPMC physicians attempted to contact Re:Solve about filling out the paperwork to have Shick committed, but Re:Solve did not follow up with them to ensure that they completed the paperwork.
In a March 2012 post on The Log of Moira, a sailing blog that Susan and her husband, Larry, maintain, Susan Shick said that her son had been verbally abusive and alienated, although “never physically threatening.”
Last June, in an update to the post from March, Susan Shick added that in order to have her son committed in Pennsylvania, she and her husband would have had to provide evidence that he posed a physical danger to himself or others.
“We were not able to provide any evidence to meet the standard that Pennsylvania demands,” she wrote.
Susan Shick did not respond to a request for comment made through her sailing blog.
Homyak, who is representing the Leights in the case, said that he has not specified the amount of damages he will seek for the Leights because state law prevents him from doing so.
Court records show that UPMC, Re:Solve and University of Pittsburgh Physicians have responded to the suit, entering an appearance and naming John Conti and Jeffrey Wetzel as their attorneys. Pitt has not yet responded. Homyak said that, as of Tuesday, a process server working on behalf of his firm has been unable to locate Susan Shick, whose last known location was in the Bahamas, in order to serve her with the amended complaint.
Last Updated on Thursday, 09 May 2013 15:42