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M.J.S. (08/01/84)

decided: August 1, 1984.

IN RE: M.J.S., COUNTY OF BUTLER, APPELLANT


Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Butler County in case of In Re: Mary Jo Stock, Miscellaneous Docket No. 82-113, Book 43, Page 122.

COUNSEL

Alexander H. Lindsay, with him, William C. Robinson and Kenneth D. Perkins, Henninger & Robinson, for appellant.

Martha Z. Zatezalo, Buchanan Ingersoll Professional Corporation, for appellee.

Judges Williams, Jr., Doyle and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Doyle.

Author: Doyle

[ 84 Pa. Commw. Page 281]

This is an appeal by the County of Butler from the decision of the Butler County Court of Common Pleas which ordered that M.J.S. remain a patient at the Elwyn Institute, and that the County continue funding for her treatment.

M.J.S. (Patient) is a severely mentally retarded adult who suffers from Down's Syndrome. Since 1957 she has resided at the Elwyn Institute, a private residential facility for the mentally retarded in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Funding for the Patient's treatment was provided directly by the Commonwealth's Department of Public Welfare (DPW) until 1981, when DPW directed the counties to administer the state funds through their Mental Health/Mental Retardation Program. At that time, Butler County, the Patient's county of residence, assumed funding and began monitoring the Patient's progress at Elwyn through its Base Service Unit.*fn1 After two visits to the facility and a review of its reports, the County concluded that the Patient could reside in a less institutionalized

[ 84 Pa. Commw. Page 282]

    setting, and began arranging for her transfer to a community living arrangement in Butler County. When the Patient's guardian, Robert Stock, refused to consent to the transfer, the County advised him that funding for the Patient's continued placement at Elwyn would be terminated.

In response to Robert Stock's demand for a hearing, the County petitioned the Court of Common Pleas under Section 406 of the Mental Health and Mental Retardation Act of 1966*fn2 (Act), and a hearing was held on the issue of whether the County could properly terminate funding. On April 27, 1983, the Court issued an opinion and order in which it concluded that a transfer to the Community Living Arrangement would not be in the best interest of the Patient, and ordered that the County continue funding of the Patient's treatment at Elwyn Institute.

On appeal to this Court, the County contends that the trial court erred in overruling its decision, arguing that it should be accorded wide discretion in determining the proper placement of patients under its supervision, and in allocating its funds accordingly. The County's authority for this proposition is found in Section 6201.12(b) of the Mental Retardation Manual*fn3 (Manual), which states, in pertinent part:

(b) The Base Service Unit is responsible for performing the following functions in such a way as to carry out the following ...


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