Police probe death following Quebec spa treatment
Published Saturday, July 30, 2011 10:43PM EDT
Police are investigating after a woman died following a cleansing procedure at a Quebec spa, prompting the head of an industry group to warn spa-goers they ought to research their treatments.
Police told CTVNews.ca that Chantal Lavigne, 35, died after participating in a detoxifying treatment at a farmhouse-turned-spa in South Durham, Quebec on Friday.
During the treatment at Reine de la Paix farmhouse, about 100 kilometres southeast of Montreal, Lavigne was enveloped in a wrap made of mud and cellophane designed in an attempt to induce intense sweating.
"This was apparently a type of spa where they offer holistic-type treatments," said Daniel Thibaudeau, spokesperson for Quebec's provincial police (SQ).
Police said Lavigne lost consciousness during the wrap procedure and had to be rushed to a hospital in Drummondville where she later died.
"When officers found her she was in critical condition, first aid was given to her at the time and she was transported immediately," Thibaudeau said.
The Canadian Press reports that another women was also vomiting when they arrived, but was in stable condition later Saturday.
Police are now investigating what role the treatment played in Lavigne's death. It is not yet known whether Lavigne had a pre-existing medical condition.
Police said the results of an autopsy may help determine whether there are any criminal elements to the case.
The spa specialized in Reiki therapy and offers energy therapy, massage and natural products, according to its website.
The woman who rents the farmhouse, Daiva Goulet, wouldn't comment except to tell CTV News that she felt badly for the families involved.
SQ spokesperson Christine Coulombe said about 10 women were undergoing the treatment that day.
Two other women who also fell ill had to be rushed to hospital, police said. Both are expected to recover.
Neighbours of the farmhouse said they have heard loud screaming coming from the property in the past.
The Canadian spa industry doesn't have a national system of standards or regulations, according to the industry group Leading Spas of Canada.
"Many provinces have little or no licensing for spa practitioners...," states the organization's website.
"Schools do not have equivalent educational programs and/or requirements for graduation."
While the group instead has its own set of spa standards, the quality assurance program remains optional.
Lucie Brousseau, the president of Alliance Spas Relais Sante, told The Canadian Press on Saturday that the onus is on the spa-goer to insure the treatment is safe.
"The industry is pretty new," she said. "We've been putting an emphasis on quality."
Meanwhile, Canada's spa industry continues to grow with the number of spas increasing by 329 per cent between 1996 and 2006.
With files from CTV's Aphrodite Salas in Montreal and The Canadian Press