The TV series “Pan AM” showcased the lives of pilots and stewardesses of the iconic airline Pan American Airways, and for Benedicta “Bene” Kumahia that was almost her reality. Bene, who is from Accra, Ghana, knew two sisters who worked for an airline and wore uniforms and high heels to work. What she liked even more was that a car would come and take them to the airport. “I wanted to be an air hostess so someone would pick me up and take me to work. And I would dress so spiffy,” she says. “I wanted to travel all over the world to help people on the airlines.”
Bene’s plans changed one day when she came home from school to take her mother to a clinic. Her father was away for police training and her mother was pregnant with twin girls at the time. While they waited in the clinic’s waiting room, Bene left to buy her mother oranges. When she returned, patients who arrived after them had already been called. Bene asked why her mother was still waiting; the room attendant said her mother had fallen asleep and Bene wasn’t there to wake her up.
This incident left her mother very upset. “I said ‘Mom, don’t cry. I will be a better nurse than that person,’” Bene says. “That’s how I decided to be a nurse and not an airline hostess. I became a nurse for my mom.”
Bene completed her nursing training in Ghana and came to the United States in 1983. After previously working at a local hospital, she joined CCA in November 2017 as a primary care nurse practitioner. Bene’s patients often use the emergency room, but she does her best to refer them to the clinic or to the CCA in-home urgent care program.
However, Bene loves visiting her patients at home, especially those who live alone.
“I love seeing the joy on my patients’ faces when I visit them.”
Her patients often treat her like a guest when she comes for a visit. They appreciate that she can spend extra time with them, and Bene is able to get to know them better.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult, Bene says, because she often worried about her patients. “I always wondered if they were OK. There were a lot of COVID cases and then they started tapering off,” she says. She noticed in her morning huddles with her coworkers that she didn’t have any patients who were listed as high risk. That meant they weren’t going to the emergency room, which made Bene happy.
Despite the stress of the pandemic, Bene says it takes a lot for her to get rattled. When she does feel stressed, she prays—she calls herself a “praying mantis.” She also makes sure she spends time with her grandson, no matter how busy she gets. She makes his dinner and her husband reads to him and plays with him. “Then we have bath time where we sing to him,” she says.
Bene also credits her colleagues with helping her throughout the pandemic. She appreciates that they put their heart into taking care of individuals with complex needs.
“I can see how my colleagues relate to the patients in a holistic way. I’m happy to be at CCA; it’s a great place to work.”