Toronto expert to review deaths of two young mothers
Jennifer Ryan
Photo courtesy of Christopher Cielecki

Jennifer Ryan shown in 2010 with son Nicholas.
next play/pause pre 1/1Hamilton Spectator
ByJoanna Frketich
The head of emergency medicine at Toronto’s largest hospital network is reviewing the deaths of two young moms at Hamilton General Hospital.

Jennifer Ryan would have turned 25 Friday. The previously healthy mother of two young sons sought medical attention three times for worsening flu-like symptoms — including a visit to Hamilton General Hospital’s emergency room in the days before she died. She was eventually rushed to Juravinski Hospital by ambulance Jan. 11 and transferred to Hamilton General after losing consciousness. She died Jan. 14 of what her husband, Christopher Cielecki, was told was meningitis.

“It’s just a tragedy,” said Cielecki. “She was a beautiful person. She would do anything for anybody. I hope people remember that smile.”

Dr. Anil Chopra, medical director of emergency medicine at the University Health Network, has been asked by Hamilton Health Sciences to review the deaths of Ryan and 26-year-old Ashly Coville.

RELATED: Deaths of two moms spark coroner’s probe

Coville didn’t know she was newly pregnant with her second child when she died Dec. 26 at Hamilton General from what her husband, Philip Kowch, was told was pneumonia.

Kowch says she also visited Hamilton General’s emergency department days before she died and was sent home.

An initial internal investigation by HHS determined there was nothing the General’s emergency department or intensive care unit could have done differently to save the women.

But it called in the outside expert to make sure it didn’t miss anything and to maintain public confidence in the hospital.

Kowch recently received some of Coville’s medical records — weeks after he says he requested them. He’s still trying to get the records from the initial emergency room visit.

“I’m very upset with the way she died,” he said. “She died miserable, upset and alone.”

The deaths are also being investigated by the coroner’s office.

HHS doesn’t yet have a deadline for the review to be finished. The reviewer is expected to meet with Cielecki and Kowch at the beginning of March.

Ryan’s friends are planning a fundraiser for her children on March 29 at the Royal Canadian Legion Polish Veterans Branch 315, 4 Solidarnosc Place. Tickets are $10. For more information email

A recent fundraiser for Coville’s children raised about $900.


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