Man accused of assaulting three UPMC McKeesport staff members

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MCKEESPORT, Pa. —

Channel 11's Renee Kaminski reported that three UPMC McKeesport staff members were attacked early Sunday morning by a man being treated at the facility.

Kaminksi spoke to one of the victims, who said she suffered a concussion.

“It’s just a very horrible headache that doesn’t end,” the woman said.

According to Kaminski's sources, 41-year-old James Smith told staff members that he was going to commit suicide. While the staff members tried transporting him to a room for treatment, officials said he assaulted three women.

“He came out of his room and started punching me in the side of my head,” the woman said.

A security guard eventually intervened and gave Smith, who is 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighs about 250 pounds, a sedative, Kaminski reported.

Kaminski said the three women involved were a registered nurse, a mental health therapist and another staffer.

“Thank goodness we have a security officer who just happened to be making rounds at the time it happened. I don’t know what we would have done without him,” the woman said.

Smith is facing several charges including aggravated assault, simple assault, disorderly conduct, recklessly endangering another person and harassment.

UPMC released the following statement Wednesday regarding the incident: “We can confirm there was an incident at UPMC McKeesport during which a behavioral health patient became aggressive with three staff members working together, resulting in minor injuries to the staff members.

“As is protocol, the staff members had on their persons emergency call buttons and phones, but didn't need to use them because hospital security was already on the unit and immediately intervened and placed the patient in isolation.

“McKeesport police were called immediately and the patient was placed under arrest upon discharge. The patient was discharged when a physician deemed it was appropriate.

“Some behavioral health patients that we care for may be vulnerable to the nature of their health conditions and may be prone to unpredictable behavior. At all UPMC facilities, as we care for patients, safety is a top priority and we are always evaluating and working to improve safety and security procedures. The procedures we have in place helped to prevent a worse outcome in this incident.”