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AARON'S BOARDING HOME AND HATTIE JAMES v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (05/16/88)

decided: May 16, 1988.

AARON'S BOARDING HOME AND HATTIE JAMES, PETITIONERS
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Department of Public Welfare, in the case of Aaron's Boarding Home, No. 34-86-002.

COUNSEL

John D. Enright, for petitioners.

Catherine Stewart, Assistant Counsel, for respondent.

Judges Colins and Palladino, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Palladino.

Author: Palladino

[ 116 Pa. Commw. Page 211]

Hattie James (Petitioner) and Aaron's Boarding Home (ABH) appeal from a Department of Public Welfare (DPW) order which upheld the revocation of Petitioner's boarding home license.

ABH was licensed by DPW in 1981. On October 1, 1985, a resident of ABH was injured in an altercation with a Mr. John Aaron, who was an employe at ABH.*fn1 On October 2, 1985, the Personal Care Boarding Home Office received an abuse complaint regarding Mr. Aaron's treatment of the resident. A boarding home inspector made an unannounced visit to ABH on October 3, 1985 and interviewed four residents, one staff member, and Mr. Aaron. On December 11, 1985, the Deputy Secretary for Mental Health sent Petitioner a letter stating that based on the recent complaint and subsequent investigation DPW was revoking ABH's license pursuant to section 1026(b)(5) of the Public Welfare Code (Code).*fn2 The letter stated:

[ 116 Pa. Commw. Page 212]

The decision to revoke the license pursuant to Subsection (b), is based upon evidence we have received that Mr. John Aaron, acting in the capacity of provider, subjected residents of your personal care boarding home to physical and verbal abuse. On October 1, 1985, Mr. John Page 212} Aaron yelled and swore and proceeded to hit, slap and choke a resident, Katherine Brand, inflicting bruises and drawing blood. The incident was witnessed and confirmed by other residents and staff and the bruises and blood were confirmed by Ms. Brand's therapist. (Emphasis in original.)

The letter ordered Petitioner to cease operation of ABH.

Petitioner appealed the decision of the Deputy Secretary for Mental Health and a fair hearing was held on April 10, 1986. DPW presented the testimony of the injured resident, the injured resident's therapist, and the inspector who investigated the complaint. Petitioner presented her own testimony. The hearing officer concluded DPW was correct in revoking ABH's license based on section 1026(b)(5) of the Code, and recommended that Petitioner's appeal be denied. The Director of the Office of Hearings and Appeals adopted the hearing officer's recommendation on June 16, 1986 and denied Petitioner's appeal. Petitioner has petitioned this court for review.

Petitioner raises two issues for our review: 1) whether DPW may revoke a license pursuant to section 1026(b) without first applying the provisions of section 1026(a); and 2) whether DPW may revoke a license without establishing a pattern of abuse of residents.

This case is governed by section 1026 of the Code, and our decision hinges on interpretation of this section. ...


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