Nurse Patricia Cummings taking her jab.
On Christmas Day of 2020, clinical nurse manager Patricia Cummings, RN, got a call that would quite literally change her life. The Guyana-born nurse, who works at United Medical Center in Washington, D.C., was asked if she'd be willing to give the COVID vaccine injection to Vice President Kamala Harris. This would be a shot heard around the world (and seen as well, per this Reuters tweet), and as Cummings later told Healthline, she was thrilled to be a key player in this historic event.
Perhaps the most significant aspect of Harris' public vaccination was the location. While many high-ranking political figures receive medical treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, neither Joe Biden nor Harris took that route. Biden received his COVID vaccine at Christiana Hospital in Newark, in his home state of Delaware (via ABC-7), but Harris' choice was even more striking. United Medical Center was formerly known as Greater Southeast Community Hospital, and throughout its 55-year history it's been known for treating some of the District's poorest residents. Southeast D.C. is also the quadrant with the highest concentration of African-American residents (via George Washington University's Center for Washington Area Studies). Several months after her history-making moment, The List had the chance to catch up with Cummings, who, in addition to her nursing duties, is studying for her Master of Science in Nursing at Walden University. Cummings shared with us her thoughts on the significance of Harris' vaccine choice.
The vaccination location had more than symbolic significance
Cummings was extremely proud as well as "pleasantly surprised" that her workplace was chosen as the site for the VP's vaccination. As she told us, "Vice President Harris choosing to be vaccinated at a hospital that is located in an under-served, minority community in southeast Washington, D.C., was an excellent demonstration of servant leadership. "She feels that Harris' choice of venue was in keeping with the values that she has embraced throughout her political career, values such as inclusion and equality.
In Cummings' nursing studies –- she is specifically pursuing a nurse-executive track – she says that she has researched a number of leadership styles, as well as the way that leaders can influence the actions of others. What she's found out is that a leader who is able to make people feel empowered is more easily able to get them to buy into their vision, and she feels that Harris is using her role to enable people to make better choices about their health. "In my opinion," Cummings shared with us, "the Vice President's attempts at appealing to all Americans, specifically those of minority groups, to be vaccinated is a testament to her strong leadership qualities."