Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Upmc's Response the Da Is Right to Probe the Western Psych Case

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Upmc's Response the Da Is Right to Probe the Western Psych Case

Article excerpt

"Maybe this could have all been prevented if somebody called police. The more you think about it, the more it drives you crazy." - - Harry Schaab

You don't have to be the father of Michael Schaab, the young man killed in John Shick's rampage at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, to still feel anger over the March 8 shootings.

Now there's a new cause for concern: the possibility that the death and injuries perpetrated that day at a UPMC facility could have been avoided.

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. raised the chilling question based on details that have come to light on the final volatile months of John Shick's life. "Quite frankly it appears that in February it should have become a police matter in terms of an involuntary commitment and he should have been taken to an emergency room on that basis," Mr. Zappala said Wednesday.

So the DA has asked investigators to learn more about Mr. Shick and the response of UPMC and its staff. For the sake of public safety, it's an examination worth doing. The public needs to know if the region's largest health system is adequately treating those who may pose a community threat, and UPMC's visitors need assurance that its public areas are safe.

Months before the assault three weeks ago, which ended in Mr. Schaab's killing, gunshot wounds to five UPMC workers and his death at the hands of University of Pittsburgh police, Mr. Shick began raising red flags with his behavior across the city.

In November, as a Duquesne University graduate student, he was banished from campus for harassing women. He declined medication and additional psychiatric help from a doctor at UPMC's Western Psych. In January, while being treated for various physical ailments at UPMC Presbyterian and UPMC Shadyside, "his interactions with the staff at those hospitals became increasingly volatile," said the DA's office. …

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