Kathy Dalton, from Lexington, Ky., grew up hearing her mother’s stories about Eastern Kentucky. While her mother was also from Lexington, her grandfather traveled frequently as a mining engineer for coal mines in Eastern Kentucky, making Kathy curious about the area. When her parents found the Courier Program at Frontier Nursing Service (FNS), now Frontier Nursing University (FNU), she decided to take the opportunity.
The summer after her junior year in college, Kathy was with FNS for eight weeks. She remembers sitting in Anna May January’s room in the evenings and hearing about her experiences. Anna May advised Kathy to meet local people during her free time when she was assigned to an outpost clinic. Kathy took her advice to heart, and when she was assigned to Flat Creek, she focused on meeting as many people as she could.
At Wendover, Kathy took care of horses and pigs at the Upper Shelf. On the weekends, she would go with the Couriers to a swimming hole at Hurricane Creek. When patients at FNU didn’t have transportation after they were discharged, Kathy would drive them to their homes in Thousandsticks. Some of her best memories from that time are fixing tea for the midwives at the Big House, the cooks who prepared the food in the kitchen, and daily tea and sherry hour at 4 and 5 p.m.
Serving as a Courier lit a fire in Kathy – it was exactly what she wanted to do. Her time at Frontier made her more aware of poverty and its effects, and deepened her commitment to service in her church and community throughout her life. The Courier Program serves a valuable purpose in helping not only defray the costs of healthcare, but it also gives the Couriers insight into what’s important in life. Young people in the Courier Program can be inspired to serve in their own communities after they return home, as Kathy was.
Since serving as a Courier, Kathy has remained supportive of Frontier. In April 2014, she hosted a tea party to help release Unbridled Service, Frontier’s historical book about the Courier Program. The tea service was done in the traditional English style in honor of the Breckinridge-style tea service she learned at FNS.
Kathy remains involved with the University because she sees that the mission of FNU today matches Mary Breckinridge’s original mission. FNU continues to serve a need, and Kathy is proud to be a part of something that has stayed the course over time. She is also interested in how Frontier’s mission can be met from a distance through technological advances. This success is an example of the best technology has to offer, and Kathy is delighted to be a part of a vital project that is serving the world.
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.
At the heart of Frontier Nursing University is a talented and diverse community of students, alumni, faculty, staff, Couriers and preceptors. Spotlight blogs feature members of our FNU community that are focused on the mission of educating nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners to deliver quality health care to underserved and rural populations.