Your Ostomy Care Team: you’re not alone! , with Kerri Holman

| Episode 39

Over the past several weeks, we have been diving into the world of ostomies and ostomy care to provide you with a wealth of resources to educate yourself and your loved ones.

This week we’re chatting with Kerri Holman, a wound ostomy nurse who started her own wound care program in addition to working in a hospital setting. She’s sharing a valuable pre-surgery checklist and helping you find a wound ostomy nurse near you!

Click the play button above to listen to our conversation with Kerri Holman.

Highlights from Today’s Episode

  • FAQs surrounding Ostomy Care
  • Preparation checklist for someone about to have ostomy surgery
  • How people can find an ostomy nurse

Industry Spotlight: Kerri OstomyRN

Kerri Holman helps you learn all about ostomy and provides you with all the comfort and services you need.

Colon Health Podcast with Dr. Dac and Ariel Bridges

About the Colon Health Podcast

Co-hosted by Dr. Dac Teoli and Ariel Bridges, the Colon Health Podcast features guest interviews with expert physicians, leading researchers, nutritional scientists, integrative health specialists, and other foremost experts in colon health.

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Episode Transcript

Ariel: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of the “Colon Health Podcast.” I’m your host Ariel Bridges. And today I’m here with Kerri Holman. Kerri, how’s it going?

Kerri: Great. Thank you so much for having me.

Ariel: Thank you so much for being here. I’m so excited to chat with you. Just to get things going, can you please share exactly what it is that you do with our audience?

Kerri: Yes, I’d love to. I am a wound ostomy nurse in the Denver area and the wound ostomy, I’ve been practicing for over 5 years, but as a nurse, over 10 years, and I started my own private practice called OstomyRN to help ostomy patients after discharge and with troubleshooting and all those fun types of things.

Ariel: Amazing. We’ve had a couple of other guests chat with us about the ostomy world. And if you are a listener, I will link those other episodes down in the show notes for you. But Kerri, I always love when we have guests starting off with hearing about their personal journeys and kind of what brought them to doing the work that they’re doing now. Do you mind sharing some of that with our listeners?

Kerri: Yes, I would love to. It’s quite a journey. I started in marketing and communications and was let go a few times and went back to school to be a nurse, just because my love for helping people really came out and I went back to school, nursing school, and got placed at this amazing rehab facility, this traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury rehab facility. And that’s where I got my first job and it really connected with my soul. I felt like I helped so many patients there.

And with spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury, often some of those patients, they do have wounds and they do have ostomies. And so it was something that I was learning about and interested in, and then I realized, wow, I can get a certification in this field. And so I pursued it. I made my own case to be a PRN wound ostomy nurse at that facility, and then jumped over to the pediatric side and helping with the pediatric facility hospital in Denver.

And as I continued my practice in helping patients with wounds and ostomy, one thing that’s really common within our peer group is that we see patients go home and they don’t have a lot of support at home. So this growing need within me just said, we’ve got to do something about it, as many other wound ostomy nurses have done. There’s a whole journal dedicated or a whole document dedicated on how to set up an outpatient clinic for your wound ostomy patients.

Now, I decided to go on my own just because I feel like helping patients in their home is a little different than having them come to a clinic. I do both now and I also do telehealth, but giving them different ways to reach an ostomy nurse is vital. And I think that’s the way the world is going is to be able to connect with your provider a little bit more intimately. And I just decided I’m gonna do it and start this business. And it’s been really rewarding and really fulfilling.

I’m still working part-time in the hospital or as needed. So I still get my inpatient bucket filled while I also help patients at home. And it’s always evolving. I’m partnering with many different people and companies, and because everyone sees the need of helping patients after ostomy surgery, even if they do get reconnected down the road, the critical period, three to six months, they do need some extra support and extra hands-on. So that’s where I am today.

Ariel: I love it. From chatting with other guests that we’ve had that have ostomies, I am in awe about, first off, the amount of things that you have to learn upon just processing the need to have this procedure, which is already…

Kerri: Oh my goodness.

Ariel: …a huge undertaking. And then having to learn all this other additional information and I can imagine it has to be so overwhelming. And I love the idea of being able to treat patients or help them out while they’re in the comfort of their own home. Because I imagine, especially initially as you’re adjusting with something as intimate as an ostomy, it can really help you feel more comfortable if you’re in an environment that is known to you and that you are comfortable in.

Kerri: Absolutely. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve gone to a patient’s home and see something totally different. They don’t have a mirror in their bathroom, so they can’t see what they’re doing. And you would never know that having them into an office. So just seeing their environment, making little tweaks and suggestions, I noticed the patient’s husband couldn’t click the bag, the two-piece together, and the providers in the office were doing it for them. But when they got home, they were really having a lot of trouble with it. So seeing them in their environment has been invaluable to give them those tools to really have success with ostomy care.

Ariel: It’s very interesting that you have the perspective of inpatient and also helping people while they’re in their homes. Both of those different experiences, can you share some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding ostomy care from both of those environments?

Kerri: Yes. Those basics of ostomy care. What we’ve all found is the hospital system, the inpatient system is being taxed and they’re short-staffed, or they have to see a ton of patients. And so ostomy patients really need more time to learn these things. They’re expected to have the surgery and be out of the hospital within three days. And if you look at evidence on how patients learn and how patients take on a skill, it takes a lot more than three days.

So some of those FAQs that I usually go over them, I repeat similar things that we do on the inpatient because patients need to hear things a multitude of times. I don’t know what the number is. I think it’s like 20, I’m just throwing a crazy number out there, but in order to learn a skill, you need to repeat that skill a multitude of times to really be an expert at it.

So those FAQs are really just basics of ostomy care. Knowing that there are different supply choices. Most hospital systems have a contract with one supplier, so wound nurses are limited because they can only give the supplies that are in their hospital. Those FAQs are that there’s other options. If that option that you were sent home with isn’t working, know that there’s so many other options that we can review and that your wound ostomy nurse can offer.

The other big FAQ is breakdown troubleshooting the peristomal skin. I often get those just because after the hospital stay, everything’s working great. They don’t discharge you until you have output. So yay, that’s great. But then what happens when the wafer’s not sticking and there’s output leaking on your skin and breaking your skin down, how to deal with that breakdown, how to deal with the leaking issues, that’s a big one that I help with a lot because patients are at home and yes, they might have been taught how to deal with it, but they don’t remember it since it’s been two or three weeks since their surgery and they’ve seen a wound ostomy nurse. Those are my big ones.

Ariel: Those are really good too because I think a lot of those are questions that people may not even realize that they need to ask. Do you know what I mean? Like you…

Kerri: Oh my goodness. Yes.

Ariel: In the setting, you learn it. You’re like, okay, I got this down, and then it’s a few weeks later, and you’re like, I didn’t even realize that I needed to ask about what happens if I’m experiencing breakdown or I didn’t even know there were different options for supply.

Kerri: Exactly. It’s always a great idea to ask more questions and don’t hesitate to reach out to your provider. If your provider doesn’t know, they’ll refer you to a wound ostomy nurse that can make some suggestions. There’s a lot of the big companies, ostomy supply companies have wound ostomy nurses on their 800 number. So you can call them and ask them. There’s so many resources out there. I know it can be overwhelming for patients. That’s why I created this business to help patients really navigate that.

And there’s so many resources out there. I mean, I’ll talk about that later, but they have a whole combination of all the information that you need. So it is out there, but just, yes, you knowing that you can go reach out to it, that you can go look for it, to get the solutions, sometimes that can be overwhelming for patients, but sometimes it really helps them get through that little period or that little hurdle a couple weeks after they’ve been out of surgery.

Ariel: Speaking of resources and knowing what to look for, if you could share a preparation checklist with someone who’s about to have ostomy surgery, what would be on that checklist, whether it’s about supplies or preparations to make in your home before you leave for the hospital, all that good stuff?

Kerri: My number one checklist item would be ask your provider to meet with a wound ostomy nurse or you can book with me. I’d love to chat with you patients about what to expect, go through the gamut of why you’re getting an ostomy, really process that a pre-op appointment with your provider, with the wound ostomy nurse, is essential. Sometimes we don’t have that luxury of meeting with a provider before the appointment because it’s an emergent situation and they have to create an ostomy. But if you can book that appointment, it will help alleviate a lot of fears and concerns that you have after the surgery.

Second, my checklist would be write down all the questions that you have for the provider and for your wound ostomy nurse. We tend to get into an appointment and we forget what we wanted to ask. There was that one nagging thing that we forgot to ask, and then getting back in touch with that provider is a little bit difficult. So make sure you write down all those questions that you wanna ask. That resource that I mentioned earlier,…and I saw that you had, Ariel, the recent president from the United Ostomy Association of America.

Ariel: Yes.

Kerri: And I know you’ll put this in the notes too. They have so many resources for patients who are potentially getting an ostomy, what nutrition you need to think about. It’s an amazing, amazing resource. There’s also the American Cancer Society website has a couple important information, resources about ostomates and what to expect.

Within that, tracking back a little bit, there’s also a link to find a support group near you. That’s a checklist item I would also recommend. Having and knowing and reaching out to other people who have been through this and making it less scary is monumental. And I know there’s evidence-based research on support groups, even with ostomate and how it can help decrease anxiety, increase acceptance of the stoma and the ostomy. Joining a support group, I cannot stress that enough. It will really help through your journey.

And then the last one, if you can connect directly with another ostomate, either your provider referring you to someone that has been through it recently or wants to connect. Many ostomates wanna help other ostomates. So it’s really cool. I would put that on the low list, but if you can connect with an ostomate to ask them personal questions, that’s a big one. Knowing your supplies, knowing your resources, those are big items, but always just ask for help. Don’t be afraid. Have an advocate to help you through this journey.

Ariel: Yes. I love that so many of those points were about not tackling this alone. I feel like this is something that can feel so isolating or that has a lot of stigma around it where people feel like they need to…they’re embarrassed or whatever the case may be, but having community and having an advocate and people to help you out can go such a long way in your healing and adjustment.

Kerri: It’s really underreported on how many ostomates there are in the United States and worldwide. They just, not just, but in the past 10 years started tracking it. So the UOAA, its most recent number was there are 750,000 to a million ostomates, but I feel those numbers are really low and there’s many, many more. And you’d be surprised the people that you connect with that are ostomates that you would have no idea.

Ariel: Yes. That’s something that is so important. It’s so fascinating for me to think because 750,000 to a million is a decent amount of people. But to hear that that, even to you, seems underreported. It’s like, wow, that really is a lot of people that are all experiencing the same thing that can come together, exchange tips, experiences. I just feel like it’s such an amazing opportunity to be able to connect with someone who’s already gone through something or is going through something alongside you, the same thing.

Kerri: I can’t remember if it’s 750,000 to a million a year, or if that’s total. Might have to look that up. But those numbers are definitely underreported. There’s such a community, and knowing that you’re not alone is a big hurdle that we can get over.

Ariel: Absolutely. And since you also have this insight, and you mentioned this earlier, I would love for you to share how people can work with you if they’d like, and also to share some general tips and information about how working with a wound ostomy nurse, what that process is like, is it covered by insurance? How do you find those people? Can someone work with you if they don’t live in the Denver area? How does all of that work?

Kerri: Oh, boy. Yeah. Lots of good questions. Yeah. You can find me online at I’m on social media, myostomyrn on Instagram, or the Official OstomyRN on Facebook. If you don’t have those technical resources to reach out with me, ask your medical provider if they work with a wound ostomy nurse. There is a great resource that the Wound Ostomy Continence Society has online to research a local nurse in your area.

I’ve done that frequently for patients that I can’t help because they’re outside of my area, but I’ve looked up the nurse, and given the phone number or connected. I’ve reached out to the nurses in a different area and said, “Hey, this patient’s near you. Can they book? Where do we call? Who do we get in touch with?” So even though I’m not available to help everybody in the areas of the Rocky Mountains, that’s where my primary help is, I can definitely help patients find nurses or wound ostomy nurses in their area. So we do have a great network. Every single nurse that’s a wound ostomy continence nurse is dedicated to helping patients no matter if you’re coming to my business or if I send you to somebody else. It’s a great community of people really caring for patients for ostomates.

The way that you connect with a wound ostomy nurse is just asking your medical provider, is there one on staff? Is there one in the inpatient? If there’s not, you can always reach out to me and I can help troubleshoot and find that right person to help you. Like I said earlier, each manufacturing company, a supply company also has wound ostomy nurses on that 800 number that you can connect with. That’s generally a post-op call, but just know that there are so many resources out there and people wishing to help you.

You’re not alone. And that’s the one big thing, Ariel, I think you asked that I wanted to share with patients is that you’re not alone. There’s so many people supporting you in this journey and you’ll get through this, and it might take a couple steps, but there’s so many people here to support ostomotes in their journey.

Ariel: I love that. We love a good reminder that we’re all in this together. We all need to support each other and make sure that we’re taken care of. Is there anything else that you wanna share with our listeners, any other parting thoughts or ideas, any last-minute resources? You’ve already shared a lot of great tips.

Kerri: I just really appreciate you having me on spreading the word about more resources and more nurses who are helping patients out there. I think that just alone, getting the word out, will help patients in the long run. And that’s one of my main goals and I think we’re all achieving it exactly by being on a podcast like this, posting resources online, those types of things. I’m just really proud to be where I am and happy that I’m helping patients.

Ariel: Absolutely. And I say this anytime I talk to any nurse, but all nurses truly are angels on earth. you all work…

Kerri: Oh my goodness.

Ariel: …so hard and do so much for patients. So thank you so much for the work that you do, especially with this population of people where they, like we were just discussing, can feel so isolated and overwhelmed. the care of a nurse that guides you in the right direction and helps you feel less isolated really is so unique and beneficial and amazing. So thank you so much for the work.

Kerri: Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it.

Ariel: I know I learned a lot and I’m hoping our audience too, our listeners, be sure that you scroll down to the show notes and check out all of the helpful resources that we’ve discussed today. And like I always say on the podcast, we all have colons, or we did at one point, so ask your questions and do your research and have a conversation. All right. See you next time on the “Colon Health Podcast.” Bye.