- Associated Press - Friday, June 20, 2014

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is denying that a top executive visited two employees wounded in a shooting at its psychiatric clinic and promised to pay their medical bills, as part of an ongoing workers compensation effort by the hospital network to be reimbursed from a half-million-dollar settlement the employees were to share with other shooting victims.

The dispute has emerged in a lawsuit pitting Kathryn Leight, 67, a former Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic receptionist, against the hospital network. Leight was critically wounded when a crazed gunman, John Shick, 30, shot her and five others, killing one of them, on March 8, 2012.

Shick was gunned down by campus police who responded to the shooting and the company that provided his renter’s insurance has already agreed to settle the victims’ claims against Shick for a total of $500,000.

But UPMC Work Partners, which handles workers’ compensation claims for the hospital chain, is targeting the renter’s insurance settlement in trying to collect more than $200,000 each from Leight and another shooting victim, Jeremy Byers, a security guard, for their medical expenses. Essentially, if UPMC gets its way, the settlement would be used to reimburse the hospital network, leaving the victims with no money.

To combat that, and to further her lawsuit against UPMC, Leight’s attorneys have been trying to subpoena Elizabeth Concordia, a top UPMC executive at the time of the shooting.

Leight and Byers have filed affidavits saying Condordia visited them while they were hospitalized shortly after the shooting and promised UPMC would take care of their medical bills and ensure their wages and benefits would be paid while they recovered. Leight’s sister has filed a separate affidavit saying she was there when Concordia introduced herself.

An Allegheny County judge has scheduled a hearing on the dispute for June 27.

Leight contends Concordia told her she “would not have to worry about the medical bills, my wages and benefits would continue until I could return to work, and there would always be a job available for me when I felt ready.”

Byers’ affidavit said two clinic officials first visited and told him that “everything would be taken care of: my medical bills, my wages, my benefits and my apartment, and that I should not worry about anything.” A day or two later Concordia and other UPMC officials “in suits” visited him, with Concordia specifically telling him, “Do not worry about anything at all. We will take care of everything.”

In April, UPMC announced that Concordia, one of four executive vice presidents, was leaving to become chief executive officer at the University of Colorado Health System, effective Sept. 2. At that time, UPMC said Concordia was also president of its hospital and community services division which operates UPMC’s 20 hospitals and includes 36,000 of the western Pennsylvania health giant’s 62,000 employees.

In court papers, UPMC attorneys have argued - based on Concordia’s signed affidavit - that she never met with Leight or Byers in the hospital.

“It is likely that plaintiffs are simple confusing some other person with Ms. Concordia as it is evident from the medical records that administrators did visit Mrs. Leight’s room,” UPMC’s attorneys said.

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