ARKANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY AND ARKANSAS INSURANCE DEPARTMENT, PUBLIC EMPLOYEE CLAIMS DIVISION APPELLANTS
JEANETTE GATLIN-TENNANT APPELLEE
FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION [NO.
Charles H. McLemore Jr., for appellant Public Employee Claims
Jeanette Gatlin-Tennant, pro se appellee.
KENNETH S. HIXSON, JUDGE.
Arkansas State University (ASU) and Arkansas Insurance
Department, Public Employee Claims Division (PECD), appeal
from a January 30, 2017 opinion by the Arkansas Workers'
Compensation Commission (Commission) affirming and adopting
the findings of fact and conclusions of law made by the
administrative law judge (ALJ) in favor of appellee Jeanette
Gatlin-Tennant. On appeal, appellants contend that
substantial evidence does not support the Commission's
decision that appellee was entitled to be reimbursed for the
installation of a walk-in shower in her bathroom. We affirm.
worked for ASU as an administrative assistant before to her
injury. Appellee sustained a compensable injury to her left
knee on December 10, 2014, when she fell at work while
walking to the post office. Appellee immediately reported the
incident and received medical treatment at the emergency room
of St. Bernard's Medical Center. Appellee further
underwent surgery on her left knee, in which hardware was
installed, and she received continued care under Dr. Brandon
M. Byrd, a Jonesboro orthopedic surgeon.
initially denied her claim for workers' compensation
benefits in a letter dated December 16, 2014. Appellee
completed a Form AR-N at PECD's request, and PECD
subsequently accepted appellee's injury as being
compensable in a letter dated December 22, 2014. In that
letter, PECD advised appellee that it would be responsible
for the necessary and reasonable medical treatment associated
with the accident; that appellee was to call or email Verlene
Williams, the workers'-compensation claims specialist
employed by PECD, after each doctor's visit; and that
"[m]edical bills, including prescription drugs, as a
result of your injury should be sent to PECD for review and
consideration for payment." In a letter dated December
23, 2014, PECD advised appellee to provide her doctor with a
copy of the letter for his records and reiterated that it
would be responsible for the necessary and reasonable medical
treatment associated with the accident.
result of the compensable accident, appellee could not bend
her knee, and therefore could not bathe at her residence.
Appellee's treating physician prescribed a walk-in shower
as being reasonable and medically necessary. The instant
proceedings involve appellee's request for reimbursement
for the cost of a walk-in shower, which was installed in her
residence. In a prehearing document filed by appellants,
appellants contended that "the claimant is not entitled
to be reimbursed by Respondents for a walk-in shower which
she had installed in her house before she gave any notice to
the Respondent about this shower."
hearing, appellee testified that appellants had paid for the
surgery and treatment provided by Dr. Byrd. She testified
that after the surgery, she was unable to bathe in the
existing tub in her home because her knee would not bend.
Appellee indicated that Dr. Byrd told her that she needed to
have a "handicapped . . . medical shower."
Therefore, she called Williams, her claims specialist,
regarding her need for a walk-in shower. Appellee testified
that she had contacted Williams both before and after the
installation of the walk-in shower.
testified that after receiving several bids, she sent the
cheapest bid for the installation of a walk-in shower with
handrails to Williams by certified mail. Although appellee
did not have the signed returned-receipt card with her the
day of the hearing, she testified that it had been signed by
a PECD employee on January 15, 2015. Appellee testified that
she was required to pay the full balance before the
contractors would complete the project. The record reflects
that appellee paid half of the balance on January 9, 2015,
and the remaining balance on January 16, 2015, for a total
cost including taxes of $3, 665.81. Appellee stated that she
attempted to contact Williams after she had forwarded the
estimate and before the installation; however, she stated
that Williams would not return her calls.
testified that the installation must have occurred prior to
January 26, 2015, because notes from appellee's office
visit with Dr. Byrd on that date indicated the following:
[Appellee] has had difficulty getting into her bathtub and
has since put in a walk-in shower with handrails. I think
that is medically necessary for her and even for the long
term as well. We will give her a letter for that today. We
will see her back in 2 to 3 weeks to see how she is
progressing with her range of motion.
in our record is an undated note signed by Dr. Byrd that
states, "[B]ased on your visit today, your provider
recommended the following: that shower and handrails are
medically necessary for entering the bath safely."
Appellee testified that at some point after the installation,
Williams told her that she needed a prescription from the
doctor. Two prescriptions signed by Dr. Byrd are contained in
our record, a prescription for shower handrails dated April
23, 2015, and a prescription for a medical walk-in shower
dated June 11, 2015.
our record contains two letters from PECD that are worth
noting. In a letter dated March 2, ...