Having a life-changing surgical procedure is never easy. This is especially true with an ostomy, a surgical procedure that opens the small or large intestine or bladder to form an exit for bodily waste to pass through to the outside of the body.
Luckily, no patient at Mercy Health – Lourdes Hospital must go through an ostomy alone thanks to our wonderful nursing team.
“We support and help patients learn through the whole process of having an ostomy,” Lisa Hobbs, RN, CWS, CFCN, OMS and Julie Ables, RN, BSN, CWCN, OMS, share. Our ministry is lucky to have them as they are both certified ostomy nurses.
“Being able to teach patients and help give them back their confidence in themselves, it’s amazing,” Julie adds.
Many patients, including those with medical conditions of the bladder, colon cancer, trauma or wounds, may require a diverting colostomy. An ostomy is the actual opening in your abdomen. A stoma refers to the end of the intestine that is sewn into the ostomy. The waste material is then collected by an external ostomy appliance.
Stoma site marking can be done prior to surgery in the outpatient setting. Having the patient position themselves lying, sitting and or standing and observing for any creases or skin folds will help the ostomy nurse to mark the site away from these areas that could cause leakage when the pouch is applied.
“Using the teaching apron (Aprons by Joy purchased by Mercy Health Lourdes Auxiliary Volunteers) helps the patient visualize the intestines and/or bladder to see where in the system the surgery will take place and see the stoma location on the skin,” Lisa shares.
Being able to mark the site before surgery and answer questions beforehand helps the patient understand what will happen before and after surgery. This understanding gives the patient a better idea of what to expect and, in turn, gives them confidence.
“The role of an ostomy nurse is to teach people with ostomies and their family members,” Julie adds. “We improve their quality of life by helping improve body image and reducing skin issues.”
For example, a patient their team had seen recently had struggled with their pouch and leakage for five years. The patient had been able to keep a pouch on only for a day or so when the pouch should have been on for three to five days. The patient had run into many problems with insurance coverage over the course of the five years and had no idea where to go to get the help they needed. After following up with their primary care provider, the patient was referred to the our wound care center for their ostomy concerns, where Julie and Lisa were there to help!
Julie says, “we found a product that did not bother the patient’s skin.”
“Now, the patient can tolerate the pouch. You can see how happy the patient is and we are so happy to finally to have a solution that has helped,” Lisa adds.
Given the personal nature of the care they provide, it’s no surprise that Julie and Lisa form close bonds with their patients. Julie shares it is rewarding when patients are happy with their outcome and their experience, and come back to talk to their ostomy nurses.
“It is a joy to see a patient or caregiver learn to be independent once they have the tools they need and feel comfortable. That is when we get to see the differences we have made,” Lisa says.
These rewards continue to reinforce their choice to be wound care and ostomy nurses.
“I love being a nurse,” Lisa says. “Over time, you find what you are passionate about and what interests you. There is something special about being a part of the difference you can make in a patient’s life.”
“I chose nursing to make a difference in patients’ lives,” Julie says. “Wound care and ostomy care are very rewarding, because it is a very visual aspect of nursing. Patients can see improvement in skin very easily and for this reason patients tend to understand.”
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Also, read more stories about our amazing nurses.