Leading the way

Cleopatra Kum, PhD '22

Cleopatra Kum’s culture emphasizes caregiving, especially for elderly community members.

Kum, PhD, lived in Cameroon, Africa, until about a decade ago when she emigrated to the U.S. to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She quickly saw an opportunity, or perhaps a necessity, for a nurse to build a better home health care model for older adults. So, she did.

“I did home health care nursing for other agencies, and I learned the people in charge were businesspeople and not nurses,” she says. “I wanted to create a family-centered model that worked for the good of the patient.” In 2016, Kum founded Family Support Care LLC, a Medicare-accredited home health agency that provides skilled and non-skilled, in-home nursing care to patients in Southwestern Ohio. The agency now employs 18 health care workers and hopes to expand. Rather than focus on the bottom line only, as she observed while working for other home health care providers, Kum’s agency strikes a balance between profit and people.

Cleopatra Kum

“Every member of the team understands that what matters is better outcomes for the patient and making sure patients get to the highest level of comfort in their homes,” she says.

Along with the typical hurdles to starting a business — securing financing, meeting legal obligations and understanding operational needs — as an immigrant, Kum also had to learn how U.S. systems function and build a personal network from the ground up. But her background is not a barrier. It is blessing, she says.

“It was a blessing because I’m from a culture of caregiving. We take care of our elders. We respect white hair. People age in place. And I brought that perspective to health care.”

Kum, who earned her PhD in 2022 from the University of Cincinnati and now serves as an assistant professor, hopes to build awareness around entrepreneurship in nursing and to health care as a career for immigrants and minorities.

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