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FAQ's

1. What is enteral nutrition (EN)?
2. Where do I get my supplies?
3. Can I travel on the BC HEN Program?
4. Can I go swimming if I'm on HEN?
5. Can I still exercise?
6. Who do I call if I have a problem with my HEN?
7. What do I do if I'm admitted to a hospital?
8. What if I no longer require HEN?
9. What do I do if I do not meet the criteria for the BC HEN Program?


1. What is enteral nutrition (EN)?
Enteral nutrition (EN) is a type of nutritional therapy that is usually provided in a hospital, rehabilitation facility or residential care facility. EN is commonly called “tube feeding.”  Tube feeding is when special liquid food, also known as formula, is given through a tube into the stomach or small bowel. The formula can be pushed through the tube with an infusion pump, by gravity or by syringe. Some people can take their formula orally instead of by tube.

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2. Where do I get my supplies?
If you are a BC Home Enteral Nutrition (HEN) Program patient, you can order your HEN formula and supplies through Product Distribution Centre, our supply company. Once you have been accepted into our Program, we will make arrangements for your first order. Once home, it is your responsibility to order your formula and supplies every month. Call 604-927-2285 ext. 1 or 1-800-988-1155 to place your order.

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3. Can I travel on the BC HEN Program?
You can travel while on HEN! Please know that you are responsible for all aspects of your trip. The BC HEN Program recommends that you discuss your travel plans with your doctor before you book your trip. You may also wish to review your travel plans with your travel agent.

Consider the following:

• Travel letter indicating your medical needs
• Travel medical insurance
• Extra weight of luggage for your pump, formula and supplies
• "Fragile" and "Medical Supply" labels for your luggage
• Health care professionals you can contact at your destination, as required

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4. Can I go swimming if I'm on HEN?
The BC HEN Program recommends that you discuss this with your doctor first. HEN consumers with a healed and healthy stoma site (where your permanent feeding tube enters your abdomen) can generally go swimming if the water is safe. The Oley Foundation has more information about swimming.

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5. Can I still exercise?
Most consumers can return to their normal exercise routine. Check with your doctor before you start or resume exercising. You will need to gradually increase your exercise activities. You can do most activities, but will need to avoid contact sports if you have a permanent feeding tube.

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6. Who do I call if I have a problem with my HEN?
If you have any problems or questions related to your HEN, you should call your doctor, nurse or dietitian. If it is an emergency, you should go directly to the emergency room.

If you have any questions related to your HEN formula and supplies, you can call the BC HEN Program. Please visit the Contact Us page for information on how to reach the BC HEN Program.

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7. What do I do if I’m admitted into a hospital?
1. Let the doctor, nurse and dietitian at the hospital know you are on HEN, so that they can ensure you receive the right nutrition while in hospital.

2. Do not bring your pump, formula or supplies into the hospital to be used during your hospital stay. The hospital should provide you with enteral nutrition and the required supplies and pump. If you do bring your pump into the hospital, have a family member or friend bring it home for you. It is very easy for a non-hospital pump to go missing while in hospital.

3. If the health care team in the hospital changes your formula, make sure that the BC HEN Program is made aware of the changes at least 5-7 business days in advance of your discharge home. Your doctor and dietitian will need to complete a Formula Change Application and send it to the BC HEN Program.

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8. What if I no longer require HEN?
If you are a patient of the BC HEN Program, let the Program know right away if you no longer require formula, supplies and a pump. You will need to return the pump to the BC HEN Program. Please contact us for information on how to reach the Program. Our secretary will arrange for courier pick-up of the pump.

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9. What do I do if I do not meet the criteria for the BC HEN Program?
If you do not meet the criteria for the BC HEN Program, you may meet the criteria for a different program that supports HEN. Here is a list of other programs in BC - be sure to review application criteria:

1. At Home Program(Pediatric only)
2. Ministry of Social Development for patients on Income Assistance or Disability Assistance (Adult only)
3. First Nations and Inuit Health Benefits
4. Veterans Affairs Canada
5. Private Extended Health Benefits

Another option for formula, pumps and pump supplies is the Oley Foundation Equipment/Supply Exchange. Available items are listed on the website. These items have been donated to the Exchange by other patients. These items are free of charge - only the shipping & handling costs need to be paid. Keep in mind the list is updated every Monday, so check back often if you are looking for something specific.

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