In 1928, Mary Breckinridge, founder of Frontier Nursing University established the Courier Program, recruiting young people to come work in the Kentucky Mountains and learn about service to humanity. Couriers escorted guests safely through remote terrain, delivered medical supplies to remote outpost clinics, and helped nurse-midwives during home visits and births. Frontier has benefited tremendously from the 1,600 Couriers who have served since 1928.
When Cari Michaels was finishing up her undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota, she decided to spend a couple of months as a courier for Frontier Nursing Service (FNS), now known as Frontier Nursing University (FNU). She headed to Wendover in 1988, ready to explore her passions of childhood development and public health.
Shortly after she arrived, Cari observed a C-section and had the opportunity to be beside a woman through both labor and delivery, which heightened her interest in health care. As a courier, she shadowed pediatricians at the hospital, delivered supplies to clinics twice a week, and helped with dinners at Wendover. Along with her work, she conducted research, mainly focusing on contributing factors to childhood obesity.
Shortly after Cari arrived at Wendover, she was given the opportunity to jump into action quickly. While working with a nurse practitioner at the Beechfork Clinic, a member of the community came running into the clinic asking for assistance with an accident that had just occurred. Cari drove the nurse practitioner to the site of the accident where they saw a vehicle had gone off the road into a ditch. Inside the car was an injured woman, who happened to work for Frontier.
Cari was the only one small enough to climb through the window and help brace the woman’s neck. She did everything the nurse practitioner told her to do to treat the injured woman.Thankfully, the woman was safely taken to the hospital soon after.
At the end of her two-month courier experience, Cari packed up and headed back home, but FNS wasn’t finished with her. She was asked to consider a job with Frontier, and in April 1989, she moved back to Wendover to become the courier coordinator and the manager of Wendover.
One of Cari’s first goals in her new position was to put Wendover back on the map. Her team worked hard to put the Big House on the National Register of Historic Places. In order to make community members feel more welcome at the Big House, Cari also reinstated Mary Breckinridge’s tea time, inviting local residents.
Additionally, Cari, along with the help of local women, began a garden committee to beautify the grounds at Wendover. This was another hands-on way to make the community of Hyden feel welcome at FNS.
According to Cari, her experiences as a courier, courier coordinator and Wendover manager have made a lasting impact in her life.
Thank you for your service to Frontier, Cari!