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Home » Colorectal Health » Major Relief: Why Elevated Ostomy Care and Support Is Critical

When Bret Cromer was a teenager — the summer before his senior year of high school — he got really sick. It seemed inexplicable at the time, given that he was an athletic student and on a relatively healthy diet. But he was making a concerning number of runs to the bathroom every day and his quality of life deteriorated swiftly.

Bret Cromer

Director, Ostomy Center of Excellence, Byram Healthcare

“Meeting somebody who is going through something similar is essential to remaining resilient when it comes to ostomy care.”

Cromer was diagnosed with Crohn’s, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The remedies he initially tried weren’t working, whether those were prescription drugs or homeopathic solutions.

“I was losing a tremendous amount of weight,” he said, and it was only after he underwent surgery that he began to feel relief. The surgeons performed a temporary colostomy by taking out three-quarters of his large intestine — carefully diverting the system through which his digested food and intestinal waste processes and passes toward a stoma (i.e., an “opening”) on his abdominal wall and into an external pouch.

Despite some limitations (and some getting used to), the surgery had a positive impact on Cromer’s life, and he was able to head off to college. After graduation, however, the Crohn’s started to manifest itself again.

Over the next decade, he had two more surgeries, culminating in a procedure that fully removed his large intestine. He was now a permanent “ostomate” and his life has never been better, with the surgeries allowing him to enjoy a breadth of activity — even his love of hitting the slopes to go skiing.

A booming market

And Cromer is hardly alone. According to a report by Mordor Intelligence, the global ostomy care “market size is estimated at $3.32 billion in 2024, and is expected to reach $4.12 billion by 2029, growing at a CAGR [compound annual growth rate] of 4.42% during the forecast period (2024-2029).” The metrics here factor in advances in technology and an expansion of the target patients, including both younger and geriatric populations with rising cases of IBD and colorectal cancer, “resulting in increased ostomy surgery cases.”

Continual support and resilience

Today, Cromer has come full circle, as he’s now able to help guide and catalyze ostomy patients so they can flourish and pursue fulfilling lives. He’s currently the director of the Ostomy Center of Excellence at Byram Healthcare, a Medicare-participating supplier of medical supplies that is contracted with most commercial plans.

Established in 1968 as an ostomy supply company, Byram Healthcare is now the nation’s leading provider of ostomy supplies.* Through its Caring Touch at Home™ program, Byram has the primary goal of ensuring that people with ostomies resume a healthy, normal lifestyle.

When asked to sum up a day in his work-life for Byram, Cromer mentions how he “provides support to our ostomy re-order customer-service representatives who work with our patients; responds to escalated customer inquiries; assists the marketing department with outreach throughout the ostomy community; helps craft strategy; and designs programs to support our current patients and foster relationships with new ones.”

One standout initiative that Cromer implemented was to ask Byram reps to wear an ostomy bag for a day. “It was optional, but the majority of our reps participated,” he said. “It really imparted a sense of humility and helped them relate more to our patients.”

Besides his work at Byram, Cromer underlines the importance of having a solid network of support. To that end, he’s a counselor at the Youth Rally, which sets up a unique camp environment “for adolescents living with conditions of the bowel and bladder” and “encourages self-confidence and independent living.” And he runs a support group that’s part of the United Ostomy Associations of America (UOAA). Byram Healthcare is a proud sponsor of UOAA.

“Those are all part of the continuum of care that is needed here,” he said. “Meeting somebody who is going through something similar is essential to remaining resilient when it comes to ostomy care.”

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*Based on data purchased from Trella Health/PlayMaker.

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