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Hospital law suit continues

Widow sues hospital for damages over husband's suicide

Dawn Ostrem
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 14/01) - The doctor named in a lawsuit against Stanton Regional Hospital will take the stand Monday.

Ewa Konopek-Holan, is suing for an unspecified amount of damages following the suicide of her husband.

Walter Holan's body was discovered in June 1998 on an island in Frame Lake, almost two years after he was released from the hospital's psychiatric ward on a day pass.

Holan was admitted to the hospital in December 1996 for depression and side-effects from withdrawal from valium.

He was released on Dec. 5, 1996 when he requested a day pass to watch his son play hockey. Holan never returned to the hospital.

A coroner's report ruled his death a suicide.

Konopek-Holan testified for approximately three hours Wednesday in Supreme Court.

She said she couldn't believe the hospital granted a day pass considering his depressed mental state.

Konopek-Holan followed her husband to Canada from Poland. When she joined her husband in Yellowknife, he was part-owner of a cab company and a car wash. She worked three jobs at times as a housekeeper, waitress and in security.

She broke into tears as she explained how the couple made $250,000 to $300,000 after the sale of both companies Holan had shares in.

They moved back to Europe and lost it all in bad investments.

"I loved him, I wanted to be loved but money to him was number one," she explained. "In his eyes he failed. He failed as a family supporter and he failed as a man."

The couple and young son moved back to Yellowknife after losing their money, she said. Konopek-Holan regained her housekeeping job at the hospital, and two other part-time positions to pay off $50,000 in credit card debts.

She said Holan again drove a taxi but began suffering the long-term effects of a valium addiction and had difficulty with work.

Her job at the hospital involved cleaning the morgue and after her husband went missing, she said she checked the book that names the deceased. It wasn't there, but after a maintenance worker caught her in the act, she was fired.

Konopek-Holan now lives in Scarborough, Ont., and cleans houses full-time. Her son is 14 and doing well in school, she said. He keeps his father's ashes in his bedroom.

"The issue is whether the hospital and the doctor are responsible for Walter's death," explained Konopek-Holan's lawyer, Robert Kasting.

"The issue of liability is specific in this case but there will certainly be things that can be taken from this, and (the judge's) findings will certainly be taken very seriously by those involved."

The civil action now before Justice John Vertes continues Monday when Dr. James McGlynn, who treated Holan, will take the stand.