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Ganus v. St. Bernard's Hosp., LLC

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division III

March 11, 2015

STEPHANIE GANUS, APPELLANT
v.
ST. BERNARD'S HOSPITAL, LLC, EMPLOYER; RISK MANAGEMENT RESOURCES, CARRIER, APPELLEES

APPEAL FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION. NO. G308350.

M. Keith Wren, for appellant.

Worley, Wood & Parrish, P.A., by: Jarrod S. Parrish, for appellees.

ROBERT J. GLADWIN, Chief Judge. KINARD and BROWN, JJ., agree.

OPINION

Page 684

ROBERT J. GLADWIN, Chief Judge

Stephanie Ganus appeals the August 4, 2014 opinion of the Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission finding that she failed to prove that her injury arose out of and in the course of her employment. On appeal, she argues that the Commission misapplied the law. We affirm.

Appellant testified that she worked as a registered nurse in the cath lab for appellee St. Bernard's Hospital, LLC. Her duties included the pre-op and post-op of patients who had cardiac stents. She worked twelve-hour shifts, and her work involved lifting heavy people onto stretchers. She claimed that she had no physical limitations preventing her from performing her regular job duties before the incident at issue. She admitted that she was involved in a car wreck in 1994 that resulted in right-knee surgery, and she claimed that she had recovered from that surgery and was able to do all of her job duties in the cath lab.

Appellant explained that the lab employees take breaks when they can and that they normally do not clock out for lunch unless they leave the premises. Employees' paychecks are automatically deducted thirty minutes for lunch. If employees do not leave the premises, they make sure their patients are stable and tell a co-worker that they are taking a lunch break. She testified that when employees go on a break or to lunch, they are not completely relieved of their job duties because they must always represent St. Bernard's. She asserted that if someone in the hallway needed help or was lost, or if trash needed picking up, the employee was expected to take care of it. She said that it was required that the employee must escort whoever might be asking for directions. Further, she said that she was subject to being called back to her unit if she were on break or at lunch. She explained that the " Committed to Excellence Pledge" required that employees always

Page 685

acknowledge their patients, customers, and visitors.

On September 17, 2013, she had a patient in bad shape, and it took extensive care for him to become stable. She decided that it was okay to take a break at 12:30 p.m. and told a co-worker that she was going to run downstairs, grab something to eat, and bring it back. Her co-worker agreed to monitor the patient. Appellant did not clock out. When appellant left to go to the cafeteria, Larinda Lynch, a patient-care technician in the cath lab, went along. As appellant stepped onto the elevator, she tripped and fell. She injured her right knee and could not stand up. When the elevator opened on the first floor, an employee was there with an empty wheelchair. Appellant was helped into the wheelchair and taken to the emergency room. A four-view x-ray of her right knee revealed a fracture. She was sent home, and she testified that she had not been back to work since that day.

After being referred to several doctors, appellant had an ACL repair on her right knee performed on December 17, 2013. Her condition improved somewhat, but she continued to walk with a limp, had a lot of pain and swelling, and participated in physical therapy three times a week. She claimed that she could not return to being on her feet eight-to-twelve hours a day. She was still under a doctor's care and was taking hydrocodone for pain. She said that she could not perform her RN duties while taking hydrocodone.

On cross-examination, appellant stated that she was not going to discharge a job duty when she walked onto the elevator on her way to get lunch that day. She also said that the employee handbook stated that during meal periods, it was anticipated that ...


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