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HILTON HOTEL CORPORATION v. WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (TOTIN) (12/19/86)

decided: December 19, 1986.

HILTON HOTEL CORPORATION, PETITIONER
v.
WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (TOTIN), RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, in case of Roberta L. Totin v. Hilton Hotel Corporation, No. A-89197.

COUNSEL

Ronald Ganassi, Will, Keisling, Ganassi & McCloskey, for petitioner.

Robert J. Fall, for respondent, Roberta Totin.

Judges MacPhail, Doyle and Barry, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Barry.

Author: Barry

[ 102 Pa. Commw. Page 529]

This appeal results from an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) which affirmed a referee's decision granting medical payments to the claimant, Roberta Totin.

Claimant was employed as a maid by the petitioner/employer herein, Hilton Hotel Corporation. On November 12, 1981, she suffered a slip-and-fall injury while in the course and scope of her employment, and payments of compensation were initiated voluntarily pursuant to a Notice of Compensation Payable. On October 17, 1983, while still receiving disability payments, claimant filed a review petition*fn1 alleging the non-payment of "medical bills [incurred for services from] a doctor to whom [she] was referred by the company doctor."

In the course of proceedings which thereafter commenced before the referee, claimant and her husband appeared and testified. Claimant alleged that she had become severely depressed and suicidal. (N.T., 12/7/83, at 11-12). Dr. Hughes, who had been treating claimant for her on-going back ailment (id. at 17), and Dr. Granowitz, who, like Dr. Hughes, had examined claimant at the request of the employer's insurance carrier

[ 102 Pa. Commw. Page 530]

(id. at 6, 13), both concurred in the opinion and advice that claimant seek psychiatric help. (Id.). Drs. Hughes and Granowitz apparently recommended that claimant seek such assistance at Western Psychiatric Hospital (Western) (id. at 7), and also suggested visiting Harmarville, a rehabilitation center, (id. at 18), but claimant and her husband decided to go to Northern Community Mental Health Center (Northern) because the latter facility was more convenient. (Id. at 7, 12).

Claimant thereupon commenced psychiatric evaluation and therapy for her mental ailment, and received medication for the same. When bills for this treatment were submitted to the insurance carrier, it refused to pay on the grounds that there was no nexus between the back injury and the depression. (Id. at 7-8).

In support of such a nexus, the claimant secured the deposition testimony of claimant's therapist, Geraldine Covert, a social worker skilled in assisting individuals with emotional problems. Ms. Covert testified, among other things, that claimant had told her that she felt that the depression came on after the back injury; when asked whether the depression stemmed from an earlier physical injury, however, counsel for the employer objected on the grounds that Ms. Covert was not competent to render the expert medical conclusion. Covert Deposition at 13. Claimant also attempted to submit a note from Dr. Hughes, but, upon the objection of employer's counsel, the document was excluded as hearsay. (N.T., 12/7/83, at 8, 26). In addition, claimant attempted to submit a report letter co-signed by Ms. Covert and by claimant's psychiatrist at Northern, Dr. Freedman. The introduction of this document was, however, objected to as hearsay (id. at 26), ...


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