Andrea (Andy) Manson


In 1979, I graduated from the nursing program at the College of New Caledonia in Prince George. Upon completing my nursing course, I worked the medical and surgical wards of Ridge Meadows Hospital.

Four years later, I took the critical care-nursing course at St. Paul’s Hospital and worked two years in Intensive Care at St. Paul’s. These hospital years provided many experiences which serve me well today.

While working in Intensive Care I realized two things. First, I discovered I like to talk with people; however, very ill people on ventilators heavily sedated don’t talk much. I often found I was talking to myself and getting in the last word. Secondly, I found I like to teach. Over the years, I’ve conducted ostomy seminars for patients, ostomy associations, as well as for home care, hospital and ET nurses.

In 1989, I obtained my nursing degree from the University of British Columbia. That year, I traveled to Toronto (those who know me well, know I like to travel), and graduated with a specialty in Enterostomal Therapy. Later in 1999, I completed a Nurse Continence Advisor (NCA) course at McMaster University.

After my ET course in 1989, I worked with my mother, Helen Manson, one of the first ET nurses in BC. She has an ostomy and saw the need for ostomy care in the hospital. In the early 1970’s, she developed the ET – Ostomy clinics at St Paul’s and Surrey Hospitals. Then in 1983, she saw the need in the community to provide continued care and support for people with ostomies for as long as they have their ostomy, so she started the Ostomy Care and Supply Centre. Upon her retirement in 1989, I proudly took ownership of the Centre. I knew I had big shoes to fill, for Helen helped to improve ostomy care in BC working tirelessly with the United Ostomy Association, and both with home care and hospital nurses.

I recall looking after ostomy patients when I first started nursing. I can honestly say I don’t know what they did after surgery when they went home. I am ashamed to think that in 1979, there were very few ostomy pouching systems available and the options were very limited. Now, I am pleased to say, there are many more pouching systems, options and companies providing ostomy products. Recently, a company presented an opportunity for me to help develop and test new products. I find it interesting and gratifying to assist ostomy manufacturer’s to improve and to continually modify their products to benefit the end user.

The most difficult part of my job, yet the most fulfilling, is to help people adjust to their ostomy. It’s easy to teach someone to put on a pouching system and to empty it but the gratifying part for me is to help people incorporate their ostomy into their life.

The advice I can give to a person with a new ostomy is that you are not alone. New clients feel they are alone, or feel they’re the only ones with a pouching system, or think the pouch they’re wearing is the only type available so I encourage you to ask for help.

New clients often are not aware of the options. At the Centre, we provide options. There are many different types of pouching systems, deodorants, lubricants, pouch covers, underwear and accessories available to make life with an ostomy easier.

We provide all-encompassing ostomy services to our clients and their families. Our examination room allows us to consult privately with clients about their ongoing care. We help select and outfit the appropriate pouching system obtained from a wide selection of readily available stock from the various suppliers we carry at the Centre.

For me, I find it satisfying to watch the progress of a person with a new ostomy, who is nervous and unsure of themself, to grow in confidence, progress and to resume living life again. I take pleasure in assisting and showing both new and “experienced” people with an ostomy new pouching systems which may make their lives easier.

I am honoured and grateful to be in the ET field of nursing. I acknowledge the trust, confidence and confidentiality that people with an ostomy place in me with this very private part of their lives.