Devastated by 19-year-old’s sudden death, family seeks answers

When Chantal Dumoulin arrived at the Hull Hospital with her son’s girlfriend on the morning of Sept. 25, they assumed it would be like the other times they’d rushed to be by Christian Provencher’s side: worrying and frustrating, but not tragic.

In fact this visit — the sixth time in five months 19-year-old Provencher sought medical treatment for a racing heart — would be the last.

Provencher — a tall, lanky, gentle kid with no previous health issues — had suffered a seizure at work, and though doctors spent 90 minutes trying to restart the young man’s heart, he died in hospital.

Provencher’s family thinks his heart trouble started back in April. He was roughhousing at his Aylmer home with a younger cousin who wrapped Provencher’s upper body in plastic kitchen wrap. Provencher gave chase but lost his footing and, unable to break his fall, crashed to the floor and briefly lost consciousness.

“He had numbness in his hands, he blacked out, he heard a big, big sound in his head, a headache, and felt nauseous,” said Dumoulin. “All those symptoms went away by the time he saw the doctor, so [the doctor] said it was a minor concussion and he would be fine.”

Palpitations began in June

Strong, lasting heart palpitations began to bother Provencher in June. On five different occasions, doctors suggested his anxiety was causing his heart to race. Provencher tried to tell them it was the other way around.

Mandy Rogocki

Mandy Rogocki was Christian Provencher’s girlfriend for three-and-a-half years. (Stu Mills/CBC)

On Aug. 9, his heart pounding visibly in his chest, Provencher’s girlfriend’s mother, Cynthia Rogocki, drove him to Wakefield Hospital.

“He waited for five hours and during the time he waited, he had an anxiety attack because these palpitations were coming and going,” said Rogocki.

Provencher was never offered either a CT scan or an MRI. But after the August episode a doctor finally referred him to a cardiologist.

When the call from the specialist’s office finally came six weeks later, it went to a wrong number. Somehow the message was left at the home of another Provencher, Christian’s uncle.

Declining health

During the wait, Cynthia Rogocki said she saw a noticeable decline in the boy her daughter had been dating for the past three-and-a-half years.

“He was taking vitamins, herbal teas, he was eating healthy and trying to make himself better, but he was very concerned that these palpitations would come and go,” said Rogocki.

Chantal Dumoulin

Cynthia Rogocki, right, comforts Chantal Dumoulin, Christian’s mother. (Stu Mills/CBC)

“The last two weeks before he passed, he slept for many long hours. His energy was getting lower and lower. Also, he looked pale and a little bluish in his face.”

Provencher’s mother said her son began believing doctors when they told him his heart palpitations were likely due to his decision to quit smoking, but in retrospect she wishes they’d pushed medical professionals to do more.

“I think they should have done tests before they made a diagnosis, but they didn’t,” said Dumoulin. 

Autopsy in Montreal

After his death on Sept. 25 Provencher’s body was sent for autopsy to Montreal, a process his grief-stricken mother was told could take two to three weeks.

But on Oct. 5, Dumoulin received another shock in the form of a call from a funeral home, telling her her son’s body was back in Hull. 

“I said, ‘I don’t understand, I didn’t get a phone call from the coroner.'” The woman from the funeral home told Dumoulin she didn’t understand either and had only been informed the body was back, though not where it was.

The next morning Dumoulin returned to the Hull Hospital, this time to look for her son’s body. 


At the Wakefield-area home of his girlfriend Mandy Rogocki, a candle burns for Christian Provencher. (Stu Mills/CBC)

“They finally found him at another funeral home in Hull, and when I got there they told me he was there since the 27th of September. And we were still at home waiting for the phone call all that time.”

Because no one had come to claim the body, the funeral home was preparing to send it back to Montreal where it would be handled as an indigent death, Dumoulin discovered.

“It could have been another tragedy,” she said through tears.

Nobody has apologized to her for the way her son’s death was handled.

Coroner investigating

The family has launched an official complaint with the region’s social services agency, the Centre Intégré de Santé et de Services Sociaux de l’Outaouais, which has 45 days to respond.

A coroner’s investigation has also been launched into the circumstances around the death.

“The health-care system let him down​,” said Mandy Rogocki, who said she misses her boyfriend and his goofy jokes.

A spokesperson with Outaouais CISSS said the agency can’t speak about the specifics of Provencher’s death but confirmed the family has filed a complaint.

“I really feel like Chris’s life could have been saved if he’d had proper diagnosis and treatment, and if he had seen a specialist in a timely manner,” said Cynthia Rogocki. “He was 19 years old. He was young … A young person lost his life because he wasn’t taken care of by the health-care system.”


Cynthia Rogocki and Chantal Dumoulin embrace. (Stu Mills/CBC)

Article source: