In the United States there are an estimated one million people living with an ostomy and more than 130,000 ostomy surgeries are performed each year. With the average hospital stay of only three days, minimal time can be dedicated to patient education. There remains an insufficient number of ostomy certified nurses to meet the needs of ostomy patients who are often without clinical or psychological support. Rehospitalizations can occur without this support, costing the healthcare system up to 608 million per year. Peers can help fill the care gap.
One such ostomate became painfully aware of the lack of education and support and the difficulties faced in finding supplies and resources as well as navigating into the “new normal” life with an ostomy. A plan was implemented to develop a new type of care system to include both clinical and peer persons. Purpose and objective of this project: deliver a more complete level of care to ostomates.
An online support group was set up, overcoming geographic limitations. A website was developed, serving as an online “ostomy yellow pages directory” with educational materials, resources to assist in obtaining supplies with or without insurance. A national ostomy pantry was established, and a 501(c)(3) evolved. The ostomate is very active, serving as president of the local UOAA chapter, an ostomy visitor to more than 10 local healthcare facilities, and facilitator of other support groups.
The online support group has 3K members; support is provided to 500 new ostomates per year; and ongoing supplies are furnished to an average of 20 persons per week.
Through care coordination, we can develop programs and interventions designed to decrease complications and readmissions, thus saving hundreds of millions of dollars in healthcare costs; all the while improving the quality of life to the patients.