When Ric Cuming showed up for work in early January, he was clad in navy blue scrubs and wearing a face shield, ignoring a heavy throng of reporters and ready to administer a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The chief executive nurse of ChristianaCare Christiana Hospital was tasked with giving the booster shot to then-president-elect Joe Biden in the midst of the pandemic that has killed millions.
“You never really do know what to expect in life,” the former Montrealer said.
Cuming found out a week before that he would be vaccinating Biden, who was about to be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States.
The seasoned nurse, who is a graduate of John Abbott College, was then vetted by the U.S. Secret Service. He was advised not to look at the cameras when carrying out his duties.
“When president-elect Biden walked in, he came in and the first thing he said to me was, ‘Thank you for being here,’” he said. “What do you say to that? It’s absolutely my pleasure.”
After the introduction, Cuming then gave the leader his second dose like he would with any other patient.
“At that moment in time, it was just about a nurse with his patient, administering an inoculation against a horrible virus that’s killed so many people around the world,” he said.
“Some might say ‘a little hope,’ right?”
Coronavirus: Biden gets 2nd COVID-19 vaccine, says he’s confident in rollout plan
Cuming, who grew up in Montreal’s Pierrefonds-Roxboro and LaSalle boroughs, graduated from John Abbott’s nursing program in 1984.
He still proudly wears his pin on his uniform as a reminder of the school and faculty that gave him the opportunities and expertise he needed for his career.
“It was the foundation of my practice,” Cuming said.
When it comes to the vaccination rollout back home, which has been slower than its American counterpart, Cuming advises his fellow Canadians to “hold on” just a bit longer.
“It will loosen up, there will be supply,” he said.
— With files from Global News Morning
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.