Northeastern native Sally Hamby was inspired as a teenager to serve as a Courier with Frontier Nursing Service (FNS). At age 23, after graduating college, Sally finally got her chance. In the fall of 1974 she headed from Washington, D.C. to Kentucky, a foreign state and a foreign culture.
Sally was stationed at Flat Creek, an outpost center at FNS, for the majority of her time as a Courier. There she worked with Sue (Brezec) Krech, who was just 22 at the time and the only nurse-midwife on site. Though they had little supervision from the FNS headquarters, the pair had much responsibility for the health of their community. Together, Sally and Sue brought patients to appointments, delivered medication, dealt with psychiatric cases, and occasionally helped in the operating room.
Though she did not pursue a career in nursing, the skills Sally developed stayed with her for the rest of her life.
She learned to drive a manual-transmission vehicle in her many journeys to rural Appalachian homes. She grew confident in explaining to families why they needed certain medications and how to take them. She also interacted with new people weekly, serving tea and showing guests around Wendover.
“The experience helped to shape me as a person in terms of feeling confident in difficult situations and in showing compassion,” she said.
After her days as a Courier, Sally became a mother, teacher, writer and performing musician specializing in renaissance music.
But many of the friends she made are still in contact with her 44 years later, and she has continued to support Frontier to this day.
“I have remained involved because Frontier is an organization that realizes its ideals and doesn’t waste its resources,” she said. She is impressed with the way FNU has done much with few resources and shows innovation through each new circumstance.
In 2010, Sally even brought her daughter to experience Frontier. With her teen, Sally traveled back to Wendover and stayed in her old courier quarters. They toured Flat Creek, visited Hyden and shared many stories.
“Seeing the work of Frontier made an important impression on her,” she said.
From Sally’s teen years to her daughters’, the legacy of Mary Breckinridge continues to shape lives for the better.
You can read about Sally’s experiences as a Courier in the Autumn 1974 Bulletin.
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.