My name is Nide Zimemo Stannard and my spouse Shannon Stannard was diagnosed with colon cancer in March 2017. She then went on to do colorectal surgery in August 2017. I am my spouse’s patient advocate and caregiver. She came out from surgery with an illeostomy bag. An ostomy bag is something we have never really paid attention to. It wasn’t up until we got home after her surgery did we realize the stress, inadequacy, unavailability and pressures of having an ostomy bag.
As the holidays approached, after the August surgery, we ran low on ostomy bags. We called the VA Hospital to replenish our ostomy bag order. They dropped the ball and never put the order through. As Christmas rolled around, we realized that the VA hospital is shut down for the holidays and not even the ER has extra colostomy bags. We were told we had to wait for the ostomy care department to re-open after the holidays. In the meantime on Christmas Day, we drove from county to county looking for colostomy bags at medical supply stores only to find out that medical-supply stores close down for the holidays. The only stores that were open around the holidays were drugstores like Walgreens (*CVS, Rite Aid). To our disappointment, Walgreens does not carry ostomy bags at the Kern County and LA County stores at all.
Our question and concern is why Walgreens (*CVS, Rite Aid) does not have colostomy bags available over the counter? The BOE recognises ostomy bags:
Mammary prostheses and ostomy appliances and related supplies do not need to be furnished by a pharmacist
to be considered dispensed by prescription as long as they are furnished pursuant to a written order of a person
authorized to prescribe such as a physician or podiatrist – http://www.boe.ca.gov/pdf/pub27.pdf
The above excerpt from the BOE website recognizes that colostomy bags are necessary to a point where a sales tax won’t be applied. Our main concern is why your store does not carry an appliance that is beyond necessary and is a tremendous need for colorectal surgery patience.According to Key Statistics for Colorectal Cancer – American Cancer Society reports:
Excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. The American Cancer Society’s estimates for the number of colorectal cancer cases in the United States for 2018 are 43,030 new cases of rectal cancer .
I have noticed the other supplies you have which include things like walking canes but you can substitute a walking cane with a long stick or an umbrella, you cant replace an ostomy bag…though we had to after being stranded with no bags, we ended up using a freezer bag (please see attached).
The journey to taking care of someone with an ostomy bag is hard work for us patient care givers. On top of the stress and psychological effects of having this new need for an ostomy bag, it really has broken us down more when we are unable to just pick it up at a drugstore.
I am writing this letter to you because I want to know what my spouse and I can do to get colostomy bags on the shelf to prevent unnecessary stress.
Nide Zimemo Stannard
How can you help? I am so glad you asked! Here is one way you can help and support our cause:
Vote HERE if you think ostomy supplies should be available at major drugstores since they open 24 hrs or until late, they open on holidays and on weekends when all medical supply stores and pharmacies are closed. Vote here.