Everyone is worried about how to deal with the COVID-19 virus. People with an ostomy may have additional concerns, if they are currently undergoing treatment for Inflammatory Bowel Disease or cancer.
The good news is that just having an ostomy does not put you at greater risk for contracting COVID-19. If you are healthy after your surgery, your risk is the same as everyone else’s. If you have other health conditions, your family doctor and specialists can talk to you about how your condition affects your risk.
The most important strategies to reduce the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19 are social distancing, isolation if you or someone close to you is showing symptoms, and handwashing.
Handwashing with soap is important because it helps to remove virus particles from your hands. You should be washing your hands each time you return home. Remember to clean your cell phone, as well – your phone manufacturer will have some guidelines on cleaning their products. Most recommend using 70% isopropyl alcohol. When you fill up your gas tank, remember that many people have been touching the nozzle – consider using a glove, even a winter glove that you can remove without touching the grip surface when filling up.
Social Distancing and Isolation
Because the virus can be spread by droplets created by coughing, sneezing or breathing out (exhaling), keeping a distance from people around you of 3-6 feet, or 1-2 meters will reduce the likelihood of breathing in an infected droplet. Staying away from other people as much as possible is also key to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Try to avoid going out for anything other than essential trips, like groceries, prescriptions, and medical appointments. See if you can use services like grocery delivery or grocery pick-up to avoid being around others.
Finally, there is some research that shows viruses can be spread through stool (poop). Close the toilet lid before flushing, and clean the bathroom regularly, especially if you or someone close to you has symptoms. Wash your hands well after emptying or changing your pouch.
The Ostomy Care Centre during COVID-19
We are taking precautions and using strategies to reduce the risk of having the virus spread through the Centre, either to patients or staff. Please help us with this – we have a page up that talks about orders and nursing visits. If you have questions or concerns, please call or email. We appreciate your patience as we respond to higher volumes of calls with reduced staff.
So far there is no indication there will be a shortage of supplies. Please be considerate and reasonable when ordering – preparation is good, but over-preparing can leave you with product you’re unable to use if your stoma or body changes before you’ve used up your stock. For more info, please see the UOAA post about ostomy supplies during the outbreak.