People of the U: Benita Spann
Published on Thursday, February 17, 2022
By: Ruth Cummins, firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor's Note: In honor of Black History Month’s 2022 theme, Black Health and Wellness, we want to celebrate the contributions, breakthroughs and cultural richness of Black professionals and students at UMMC. See more People of the U features.
Registered nurse Benita Spann says she works behind the scenes, but you’d never know that by what her day can hold at the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s hospital in Lexington, UMMC Holmes County.
“I’m all around, all about, from the ER to the second floor to the supervisor’s office,” said Spann, whose 35-year nursing career has mostly been spent at UMMC Holmes County. “As a supervisor, we do everything under the sun. Nothing is too large or too small.”
A senior staff RN, Spann came to UMMC Holmes County in 1986, left for about 10 years to go back to school and minister to patients elsewhere, and then came back and stayed.
“I don’t expect anyone to do anything that I wouldn’t do,” Spann said. “That goes all the way to bathing and changing a patient, giving medicine, running codes, doing schedules and taking call-ins,” she said. “And mopping the floors. It all depends on what’s needed.”
UMMC Holmes County is what’s called a critical access hospital. That means that its ER is often bustling with injuries and sickness you’d find in a rural community, and many of those patients are flown or sent by ground ambulance to a bigger facility for more specialized care. Critical access hospitals are limited to 25 beds, and patients are only supposed to stay a few days.
The Emergency Department is a special part of the hospital where caregivers like Spann are on the first lines of saving lives. “If they call me to the ER, that’s where I go,” said Spann, who manages staff and supports doctors to make sure the hospital runs smoothly and efficiently. “The most devastating place can be the ER, because you never know what’s going to come in,”
Spann is more than a utility player, her coworkers say.
“Benita Spann is one of the most caring and hardest working nurses that I know,” said charge nurse Angenett Williams. “Rarely will you catch her sitting down not doing anything. She works the entire hospital. She is not timid when it comes to handling difficult situations.”
“Benita has a heart for people,” said Paige Lawrence, assistant administrator and chief nursing officer at UMMC Holmes County. “She cares not only for our patients, but for all of her coworkers as well. She brings a calming presence to difficult situations and always has a positive attitude that things will work out.”
Spann is active in her community, volunteering as a community health nurse for the Delta Health Alliance and her church, New Zion Missionary Baptist. She works part-time for the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services, arranging services for patients such as cooking, cleaning or modifications to make their homes handicap accessible. “We want to help them be able to stay at home,” she said.
Spann’s philosophy on her life’s profession is twofold.
“Nursing has to come from the heart,” she said. “And, if you choose a job that you love, you’ll never have to work again.”
Married for 35 years, Spann lives in the Acona community just north of Lexington and has one son and three grandchildren. Whether she’s at work, at home or volunteering in her community, Spann is surrounded by family.
Her nursing ministry is based at UMMC Holmes County “because it’s home for me. Everyone I work with – it’s so family oriented.
“There’s no place like home, I can tell you that.”