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WOCN: Around the World in 40 Years
Date:4/7/2008

wounds that required the expertise of an ET. As firepower increased, so did the intensity of the injuries seen by ET Nurses. Although a relatively new specialty, the profession was making giant steps in bringing comfort, dignity and independence to WOC patients.

The Next Decade

The chaotic events of the 1960s continued into the 1970s. The war in Vietnam raged and the severity of injuries sustained by the troops increased. ET Nurses were treating veterans with injuries such as draining wounds, fistulas and stomas in medical settings but were also preparing them to re-enter society.

In 1978, the profession launched one of its first efforts to form an international link with others in the profession. The World Council of Enterostomal Therapists convened a meeting in Italy to enable members to meet and discuss issues, increase their knowledge and promote awareness. While representation from individual countries was small, this global alliance was an important first step in extending the reach and influence of WOC professionals.

The 1980s

By early 1980, HIV/AIDS was headline news. The virus was considered one of the biggest health care concerns of modern times. By 1984, there were 8,000 confirmed cases and 3,700 deaths in the U.S. alone. Throughout the world, WOC Nurses were called in to action to address the many complications of AIDS, including venous status ulcerations and more.

During that same decade, dramatic changes in the Medicare system placed tremendous pressure on WOC Nurses. Under the revised reimbursement system, hospitals were rewarded for reducing patient stays and costs. Consequently the average length of a hospital stay was reduced significantly. New ostomy patients were sent home after seven days requiring care in alternate settings. During this period, ET played a key role in managing care of ostomy patients.

The 1990s

By the 1990s, life expectancy had increased dramatically in most countries thr
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SOURCE The WOCN Society
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