Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Delores Hargis v. Scott Paper Company and Employers Mutual Liability Insurance Company of Wisconsin, No. A-67500.
James K. Martin, for appellants.
Joseph F. Mulcahy, Jr., with him James N. Diefenderfer, for appellees.
Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.
[ 15 Pa. Commw. Page 180]
This is an employer's appeal from an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board affirming a referee's award of benefits for partial disability on a claim petition.
[ 15 Pa. Commw. Page 181]
The appellee, Delores Hargis, suffered a severe burn of her right hand while operating a bag sealing machine in the course of her employment with the appellant, Scott Paper Company. The issue before the workmen's compensation referee was whether she remained partially disabled after August 15, 1969, the date on which her treating physician, Dr. R. S. Oakey, Jr., believed her hand to be completely healed and her disability ended. The issue before us is whether the referee's determination, affirmed by the Board, that the claimant continued partially disabled after that date is supported by substantial competent evidence.
The accident occurred February 5, 1969. The claimant was treated initially at a hospital clinic and then by her employer's medical people. This treatment consisted of putting salve on the burned hand and wrapping it. She continued to work with considerable difficulty. The hand did not improve and in late February 1969 the employer's physician sent her to Dr. Oakey, a board certified surgeon who specializes in hand injuries. Dr. Oakey put the hand in a cast and advised the employer that the claimant could not work for at least three weeks. During this three week period the claimant was laid off from her employment, apparently for reasons not connected with her injury. Dr. Oakey continued to treat the claimant's hand. The burn healed but Dr. Oakey was required to perform a surgical revision of a resulting scar on July 2, 1969. Dr. Oakey testified that the claimant could do light work as of April 1969 and that all disability ended by August 15, 1969.
The claimant was unemployed until January 1970 when she found work in a textile mill. She testified that she was unable to continue this work because of weakness and pain in her right hand. She worked for a short time as a nurse's aide in a convalescent home but left that employment because the salary was
[ 15 Pa. Commw. Page 182]
less than her living expenses. On or about June of 1970 through the State Board of Rehabilitation, she attended a course of instructions in the operation of telephone switchboards. As a result of this training, the claimant has found employment as a clerk-switchboard operator. In this position she is paid $83.00 a week. In her former employment with the appellant, the Scott Paper Company, she was paid $2.22 an hour or about $88.80 for a 40 hour week, but as the result of overtime actually earned $100 per week.
Although the claimant was laudatory of Dr. Oakey's medical and surgical services, she disagreed with his opinion that her right hand was as well as ever. The referee accepted the claimant's statement of her ...