Sept. 21 — To the Editor:

Oct. 1, 2016 is National Ostomy Awareness Day. As a wound, ostomy and continence certified nurse at Exeter Hospital, I would like to explain this day to our community. This day serves to recognize the bravery and tenacity of the estimated 750,000 Americans of all ages that live with an ostomy. An ostomy is a type of surgery that creates an opening (stoma) in the abdomen that allows for the removal of bodily waste into a ‘pouch’ or ‘ostomy bag’ outside the body. This surgery is needed when a person has lost the normal function of digestive or urinary systems due to birth defects, cancer, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, trauma (such as a military service injury or accident), and other medical conditions. Education is needed to fight stigmas related to misinformation about ostomies.

This day serves as a reminder to the American public that this is a lifesaving and life-restoring surgery: in short, ostomies are about life. People living with an ostomy should be accepted as the active and healthy individuals they are. This year’s theme is Resilience: “Bouncing Back into Life,” and is all about finding inner strength to bounce back from this surgery. People and families of those with ostomies are not alone and can find support at United Ostomy Associations of America, Inc. or by attending a support group such as the one we have monthly at Exeter Hospital (603-580-6668)

In this coming year, ostomates face another, even greater challenge. The President’s fiscal year 2017 budget provision is asking to expand Medicare’s competitive bidding program to ostomy and urological supplies .Because it is a medical necessity that individuals have access to a properly fitted pouching system, the one-size-fits-all policy that could result from competitive bidding is unacceptable. This provision fails to understand the unique health care needs of the individuals who utilize these medical supplies in order to live, work, and function. The competitive bidding program would place their health at risk and reduce the pouching options that are available. UOAA and the WOCN Society have long opposed the inclusion of ostomy supplies in competitive bidding proposals, and will continue to do so in the future. Having the ability to choose a product that maintains a person’s dignity and allows them to live a normal life free of the fear of leakage is essential.

You can discover more about Ostomy Awareness Day at www.ostomy.org.

Please consider contacting Congressman Frank Guinta (Phone: (603) 641-9536) to voice your disagreement in including ostomy supplies as part of competitive bidding.

Kellyann Dockery

Exeter