Stroke victim often off sick
Peter Small
Staff reporter
A woman whose family believes she died as a result of complications after a chiropractic neck manipulation booked off work for illness so often her employer was threatening to fire her, an inquest has heard.

"We have been monitoring and reviewing your excessive rate of absenteeism over two years now," a supervisor at GlaxoWellcome wrote to Lana Dale Lewis on March 15, 1995.

"If you are absent more than four days from March 15 to June 30, 1995, your employment with Glaxo will be terminated," says the letter read at the inquest into her death yesterday by Tim Danson, lawyer for the Canadian Chiropractic Association and the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic Col- lege.

Lewis, 45, who worked in the company's Mississauga plant, died in September, 1996, after suffering two strokes. That was 17 days after she had a chiropractic neck adjustment.

Lewis went to Etobicoke's Queensway hospital Sept. 1, complaining of dizziness and difficulty seeing. She was released from hospital Sept. 6 but collapsed four days later and died Sept. 12. An autopsy attributed her death to a stroke.

On Sept. 15, 1995, she had received another warning letter from her employer allowing her no more than six days off work up to March 31, 1996, Danson noted while questioning Marilyn Robertson, a former occupational health nurse at the plant.

It added stress to Lewis' life believing her job was on the line, Robertson testified.

"She was expressing very real medical concerns that she had," Robertson told Brian Foster, lawyer for Dr. Philip Emanuele, the chiropractor who treated her on Aug. 26, 1996.

She felt she was "being pinned to the wall," forced to be at work yet insisting she was sick, Robertson said. The nurse noted Lewis had gynecological problems and migraines. "She would complain and be upset at the fact that, you know, `They expect me to be here. I can't be here. I am sick.'"

Robertson testified that despite Lewis' health problems, she was surprised when she learned she had died. "Yes, she had several illnesses and problems, but nothing that was that outstanding in other words to red flag you to say, `Okay she's here and not there the next day.'"

The inquest resumes Monday.

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