Our vision is to achieve the highest quality of life for ostomates in Nova Scotia 

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Ostomy Halifax Society is a non-profit volunteer organization dedicated to all people with an ostomy and their families, helping them to live life to the fullest through support, education, collaboration and advocacy

Contact Information

Meeting location 
Bethune Building, Victoria General Hospital 
Meets First Sunday of the month. No meeting July and August
Annual dues $28.00

Mailing address  
PO Box 8476 
Halifax, NS  
B3K 5M2

General Inquiries 
(902) 473-0414    


Bill Power president@ostomyhalifax.ca

Graham Thomas

Theresa Mason treasurer@ostomyhalifax.ca

Correspondence Secretary:
Barbara Barrett

Recording Secretary:
Niki Power

Past President:
Elaine Jeffery

CRA charitable registration Number  
11927 7184 

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Our History  

Two ostomates and a doctor started Ostomy Halifax. The story, however, has an earlier beginning, an interesting and humourous one ~

In 1969 a social was held in the Halifax Infirmary. The intention was to raise a modest amount to start a self-help ostomate group. By all accounts it was a success and a temptingly handsome sum of money was raised. Hopes were dashed, however; neither the organizer nor the money was seen again!

Then something fortuitous happened that same year. Bette Yetman needed ostomy surgery. With the urging of Dr. Fred Barton, a second attempt to start an ostomy group was made, this time successfully.

The incredible stories of our three founding members, Dr. Fred Barton, Bette Yetman and Ruth Kenney are told in the Endowment Section. What follows are brief interesting episodes in our colourful history; efforts made to help ostomates in our province and our region. A full and detailed history will soon be available.

An ad was placed in the personals section of The Chronicle Herald newspaper for anyone interested in ostomies to meet at the Halifax Infirmary in late October.

1973 In February, an international body, the United Ostomy Association (UOA) welcomed the Nova Scotia Ostomy Association as its 189th Chapter. Its objectives were simple 1) Encourage new ostomates to return to their previous activities as quickly as possible which would allow them to regain their self-confidence and esteem 2) Educate the medical profession that a well adjusted ostomate is the best authority on good ostomy appliances 3) Educate the general public on the employability, insurability and general well being of the ostomate. In 1976 we incorporated and became the United Ostomy Association-Metro Halifax Chapter. In 2013 we changed our name to Ostomy Halifax Society

Over the years Ostomy Halifax, primarily through the efforts of Bette Yetman and Ruth Kenney, has had a proud tradition of helping to organize Chapters throughout the region:

1975 Cape Breton + Annapolis Valley (reorganized later as the Middleton satellite) + Southwest Nova Scotia Yarmouth

Prince Edward Island (Charlottetown)
1978 Truro
1979 Moncton NB + Antigonish, Pictou County (New Glasgow)
1980 St. John's Newfoundland + Lunenburg and Queens County (now South Shore Satellite)
1982 Bathurst NB
1997 Kentville NS (Annapolis Valley East Satellite)
2000 Miramichi City Group NB
2001 Gander NL

Although there have been many wonderful achievements over the years, three in particular stand out:

Lynn Stewart Nova Scotia's first ET

Lynn Stewart Nova Scotia's first ET

ET Positions

Dr. Barton lobbied this cause from the beginning. Lynn Stewart, RN, became Nova Scotia's first Enterostomal Therapist (ET) in 1974 Lynn noted “In the past, patients were sent home poorly fitted with an appliance and were totally unaware it was the wrong type for their individual care.” Doris Saunders, a staff reporter for the Chronicle-Herald, interviewed Lynn in March 2008 about an ostomate patient. An incorrect appliance was worn by a woman for 32 years because she did not know where to go for help. One day she was informed that Bette Yetman had been on TV demonstrating appliances that were now available. Lynn said “The equipment was wrong to begin with (it) was for a colostomate instead of an ileostomate. She lived the life of a hermit all those years, but now she has found help, is leading a normal life. This woman is one of many who experienced similar situations during the past 30 to 40 years.”

In 1983 submissions were made for an additional two ET positions for the VG hospital and these appointments were made the following year. In 1997 after an ET resigned the position was not filled. After a successful letter writing campaign from the ostomy association a permanent ET position was created for the western region. 1999, after constant pressure, an ET position at the IWK was made permanent.

Dr. Patrick Thompson Ostomy Halifax President 2007 - 2010

Dr. Patrick Thompson Ostomy Halifax President 2007 - 2010


In 2005 Patrick Thompson undertook the task of contacting the health department officials in all four Atlantic provinces to determine the annual number of ostomy surgeries and what assistance was being provided to low income earners who would have difficulty paying for ostomy supplies. In 2007 Dr. Thompson led a delegation from our Chapter and met with the NS Deputy Minister of Health. As he stated, "Our main concern was the problem faced by the young 'working poor'." The 2008 NS provincial budget contained measures that made provision for ostomy supplies to be included in the new PharmaCare program. A great deal of work resulted in a great outcome for ostomates.


The Visitor Program

Our organization was initially established for the purpose of linking new ostomates with others who had experience living as ostomates. Hospital visits by “experienced” to “new” ostomates remains a key role of Ostomy Halifax. Now called “The Visitor Program”, this initiative sees trained ostomate volunteers spending 30 to 60 minutes alongside a new ostomate in the hospital. These visits are a chance to share experiences of adjusting to life outside the hospital and to help allay any fears the new ostomate may have about the ability to continue an active, positive and fulfilling life. Ostomy Halifax pours many hours and resources into organizing and matching these hospital visits, training the volunteers, coordinating with nurses and putting on visitation workshops.

Old Gear

So you think that your ostomy bags, adhesive, fasteners etc. are not quite what they might be? If you do, you are likely a fairly new ostomate. Some more
"experienced" ostomates remember when ...

circa 1950 The Davol RUBBER ileostomy ostomy pouch was the greatest thing. Some lucky ileostomates could afford two! The metal cage was used to protect the stoma from injury and the side ring held the belt which went around your torso. Comfortable? Not likely, rubber just doesn't breathe that well.


circa 1960 the Hertz disposable colostomy kit was big news. The face plate was rigid plastic and leaked badly with much movement. Nevertheless it was advertised as "inconspicuous, odorless, sanitary"


Can you tell from the can that the Uni-Solve Ostomy Adhesive Remover was a powerful potion that would likely remove most anything?