UPMC exec denies making promises to Western Psych shooting victim

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Kathryn Leight sat in front of the video camera, her voice fast and breathless. 

At times, as the 67-year-old woman described a visit in her hospital room in the days after she was shot during a rampage at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic two years ago, her words caught and hands trembled. 

Still, none of it was enough to jog Elizabeth Concordia‘‍s memory that she was the UPMC executive who visited the woman. 

“Does that refresh your recollection?” asked Ms. Leight’‍s attorney, Marko Homyak, in a Wednesday deposition with Ms. Concordia. 

“Not at all,” she answered. “I did not visit Miss Leight. Claudia [Roth, president and CEO of Western Psych] and Kim [Owens, vice president of inpatient and emergency services and chief nursing officer] did. Miss Leight went through a traumatic situation here, and so the most important piece is to be considerate of her as an individual. So it would make sense that the people that visited her from a UPMC/WPIC perspective [were] those that knew her, and so Claudia and Kim would be the people who visited her.”

The question about the purported visit is a central one in pending litigation by Ms. Leight and another victim, Jeremy Byers, related to the March 8, 2012, shooting. 

According to both plaintiffs, Ms. Concordia visited them at UPMC Presbyterian shortly after the incident and told them they would not have to worry about anything and that their medical bills would be taken care of.

But in May, they received a letter from UPMC's workers' compensation arm that said it planned to collect more than $200,000 in medical charges from each of them out of any settlement money they receive from a $500,000 renter's insurance policy that the shooter, John Shick, held. That policy is expected to be divided among eight people injured in the attack.

Attorneys for Ms. Leight and Mr. Byers believe that money should not be touched because of the promise they allege Ms. Concordia made.

“All of a sudden ... I saw Kim Owens and Liz Concordia, and they come over to my bed,” Ms. Leight said in her March 6 deposition. “But there were all these men they brought with them. They told me who these men were, but I don‘‍t know who they said. I don’‍t remember. But they were just all men dressed in suits, and they lined up all around the room. I was afraid of them.

“And Liz and Kim were right next to me, and they had their head down so they could hear me talk, and they were telling me how they would take care of me, and that they were sorry that this happened, and that no matter what, they would take care of me. They said, ‘‍Kathy, ... ’‍ Liz said, ‘‍No matter,’‍ she says, ‘‍I’‍ll see to it that you receive your full pay. I‘‍ll take care of all your medical. Kathy, we will take care of you. We’‍re so sorry this happened,‘‍ and they were very nice. They were very nice. They wanted to hear what happened, and I told them the best I could because I had a lot of stuff on me. I don‘‍t remember how much I told them. They were very nice and consoling, and that they were going to help me, and for me not to worry about anything. That they would take care of it. None of those men that were there spoke to me. 

”I don’‍t know why they were there.“

Ms. Concordia, who was deposed for about an hour on Wednesday, was asked to watch about four minutes of Ms. Leight‘‍s deposition. 

The request was made by Mr. Homyak after she said repeatedly that she never met with the woman who worked as a secretary at Western Psych and was shot in the abdomen. 

”I had no discussions with Miss Leight,“ said Ms. Concordia, who up until June 30 was the president of UPMC’‍s Hospital and Community Services Division. She is slated to begin in September as the new president and CEO at the University of Colorado Health System in Aurora, Colo.

”Did you ever enter her hospital room?“ Mr. Homyak continued. 

”No, I did not.“ 

Instead, Ms. Concordia said that Ms. Roth told her she would visit Ms. Leight. 

”So, I know. This is obviously a very unfortunate incident. And Claudia Roth, who was the president of Western Psych absolutely went to go visit Miss Leight to express our concern for her as an employee,“ Ms. Concordia said. ”I cannot comment on specifically what they discussed, as I was not there.“ 

As for what, if any promises were made to Ms. Leight, Ms. Concordia said those issues would likely have been handled through human resources. 

”I would not have been involved in this,“ she said. ”I haven‘‍t been involved in any of this. I don’‍t have any of the details and know any of the answers that you‘‍re asking.“ 

Throughout Ms. Concordia’‍s deposition, the interaction between Mr. Homyak and UPMC attorney John Conti was contentious, with Mr. Conti repeatedly objecting to questions asked by Mr. Homyak. Among them were those seeking information about safety and security at Western Psych, as well as the response by hospital administrators after the shooting.

”The idea of what UPMC is is central to this case,“ Mr. Homyak said.

But Mr. Conti argued that the purpose of Ms. Concordia’‍s deposition was limited to whether she met with Ms. Leight.  

”[This] is not a carte blanche interrogation of this witness into the corporate structure of UPMC,“ Mr. Conti said early on. ”Unless, everything has been a ploy to this point to gain a deposition.“ 

Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com, 412-263-2620 or on Twitter @PaulaReedWard.

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