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CANONSBURG GENERAL HOSPITAL v. DEPARTMENT HEALTH COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA AND H. ARNOLD MULLER (10/31/80)

decided: October 31, 1980.

CANONSBURG GENERAL HOSPITAL,
v.
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA AND H. ARNOLD MULLER, M.D., SECRETARY OF HEALTH, APPELLANTS



No. 80-1-105, Appeal from the Order of the Commonwealth Court at No. 2335 C.D. 1979, Entered May 6, 1980.

COUNSEL

D. Galton Cabot Moss, Asst. Atty. Gen., Pa. Dept. of Health, Reed Hamilton, Harrisburg, for appellants.

Clara Mattern, Horty, Springer & Mattern, Pittsburgh, for appellee.

O'Brien, C. J., and Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty and Kauffman, JJ.

Author: Roberts

[ 492 Pa. Page 70]

OPINION OF THE COURT

This is an appeal from an order of the Commonwealth Court granting appellee Canonsburg General Hospital a writ of peremptory mandamus directing appellants, the Commonwealth's Department of Health and its Secretary, to certify that Canonsburg General's proposal to build a new hospital conforms to standards for federal financial assistance under section 1122 of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. ยง 1320a-1. We agree with appellants that Canonsburg General has failed to exhaust available administrative remedies and that judicial relief is thus not proper. Hence we reverse the order of the Commonwealth Court, 51 Pa. Commw. 142, 413 A.2d 1185, and dismiss the petition.

Canonsburg General plans to replace its existing 108 bed facility with a new 100 bed facility at a cost of approximately $17 million. Instead of pursuing only private financing, Canonsburg General seeks to obtain federal financial assistance. Accordingly, Canonsburg General submitted an application for approval of its planned construction to Health Systems Agency of Southwestern Pennsylvania (HSA), the regional body to which appellants have assigned their responsibility to review applications for approval.*fn1

HSA received Canonsburg General's application on April 16, 1979. On April 30, HSA advised Canonsburg General that the application was incomplete. According to HSA, the

[ 492 Pa. Page 71]

    application failed to supply necessary information regarding either joint planning with other health care facilities or the feasibility of alternatives to the $17 million proposed project. Because it deemed the application incomplete, HSA did not consider the merits of Canonsburg General's proposal.

Canonsburg General did not challenge HSA's determination of incompleteness. Instead it purported to attempt to cure the shortcomings in its application. On May 30, HSA received additional information from Canonsburg General. One week later, on June 6, HSA informed Canonsburg General that this additional information did not constitute a response to HSA's request. Again Canonsburg General sought no review of HSA's determination.

On July 13 Canonsburg General provided HSA with still more information. This, too, in the view of HSA did not serve to complete Canonsburg General's application. HSA so advised Canonsburg General on July 27. Again no review was sought. More correspondence followed, including an August 1 letter from Canonsburg General to HSA reporting that it had previously explored alternatives with a neighboring facility, and an August 10 response of HSA continuing to treat ...


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