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IFIDA HEALTH CARE GROUP v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (09/15/89)

decided: September 15, 1989.

IFIDA HEALTH CARE GROUP, LTD., PETITIONER,
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, RESPONDENT



PETITION FOR REVIEW (STATE HEALTH FACILITY HEARING BOARD).

COUNSEL

Carl B. Cooper, Office of Carl E. Singley, with him, Richard B. Capalli, for petitioner.

Carol Brayshaw Longwell, Asst. Counsel, with her, Darius G.C. Moss, Asst. Counsel, and Ruth E. Granfors, Chief Counsel, for respondent.

Jan L. Weinstock, with her, Reed Hamilton, Blank, Rome, Comisky & McCauley, for intervenor, Diversified Health Services.

Doyle and Smith, JJ., and Barbieri, Senior Judge. Barbieri, Senior Judge, dissenting.

Author: Doyle

[ 128 Pa. Commw. Page 635]

This is an appeal by the IFIDA Health Care Group, Ltd., (IFIDA) from an order of the State Health Facility Hearing Board (Board) dismissing IFIDA's appeal on the basis that it lacked standing to appeal to the Board.

The instant matter began on November 6, 1987 when Diversified Health Services (Diversified) filed an application for a Certificate of Need (CON) proposing to develop a 120 bed long-term care facility in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. On March 4, 1988, the Department of Health (Department) published a notice of completed CON application in a Delaware County newspaper and on March 5, 1988 the Department published a similar notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. These notices advised that any "affected person" could request a public hearing on the project and that all requests were to be made to the Department in writing

[ 128 Pa. Commw. Page 636]

    within fifteen days of the notice. IFIDA owns long-term care facilities in Montgomery and Delaware Counties. By letter to the Department dated March 8, 1988, IFIDA declared itself an "affected party" with respect to the CON application and requested a hearing.*fn1 On May 4, 1988 a public hearing was held and IFIDA testified through a legal representative at the hearing in opposition to Diversified's project. Then on May 17, 1988 IFIDA submitted to the Department a written version of the testimony that had been orally presented. On June 6, 1988 the Department approved Diversified's CON application. On July 1, 1988, IFIDA filed a timely appeal from the Department's decision with the Board. Diversified and the Department then filed a motion to strike the appeal before the Board contending that IFIDA lacked standing to appeal. The Board agreed and granted the motion to strike. It is the order granting the motion to strike and, hence, denying the appeal which is presently before us.

Pursuant to Section 506(a) of the Health Care Facilities Act*fn2 (Act), 35 P.S. § 448.506(a), which concerns itself with appeals to the Board, "Decisions of the department on an application for a certificate of need or amendment thereto may be appealed within 30 days by any party or health systems agency who is involved in the proceeding " (emphasis added). The word "party" is not defined in the Act. The Board, to determine party status, relied on Section 703(a) of the Act, 35 P.S. § 448.703(a), and concluded that IFIDA was not a party. Section 703(a) concerns itself with the conduct of hearings and notice of hearings before a health systems agency and pertinently provides:

Notice of completed applications for certificates of need or amendment thereto and of the beginning of review shall be published by the health systems agency in the ...


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