The inspirational success stories of FNU graduates are many. Very few, however, start with dropping out of high school. Nonetheless, that is the way the story of how Patty Coldiron, MSN, FNP, Bridge 102, opened Hometown Urgent Care in January begins.
Born and raised in rural Harlan County, Kentucky, Coldiron dropped out of high school and, at the age of 16, gave birth to her son Joshua, who was born with spina bifida.
“He is the reason I went into nursing,” Coldiron said. “I wanted to know everything I could medically to be able to help him. Having knowledge in the field of nursing allowed me to help him physically and mentally, giving him the mindset he can do everything everyone else does, just a little differently.”
Three years after Joshua’s birth, Coldiron went back to school and earned her GED. At 25, she began working as a Certified Nursing Assistant and worked for four years before being laid off. Undeterred, she kept moving forward.
“I went to my local Community Action Agency and applied for the displaced worker’s program,” Coldiron said. “I was accepted and through that program, I received my licensed practical nurse degree. When the local community college bought the technical college, they came to me and asked if I would sign up for their Registered Nurse program.”
In 2003, she graduated from Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College with an associate’s degree in nursing. She worked in several areas, including on the medical/surgical floor and the ER, but her primary area was home health. With her career and goals coming into focus, Coldiron joined two of her friends in applying to FNU.
“We all three were accepted, but I was the only one who decided to follow through,” said Coldiron, who graduated in 2015.
During her last term, Joshua was in a motor vehicle accident and spent nearly a month in the ICU.
“The days I had to work my mom (Pauline Boggs) would stay with him,” Coldiron said. “I sat in the hospital with him and would try to study and get ready for my boards. With the help of family and God, I finished and he eventually came home, but never the same. The knowledge I had from going to Frontier, without a doubt helped me care for him again, and let me keep him 14 more months after the accident.”
Joshua passed away on May 31, 2016.
“He was the kindest, gentle, humble person you would ever meet,” Coldiron said. “He was wheelchair dependent but that didn’t stop him. He was an avid outdoorsman. He loved to ride his ATV to hunt. He also loved to fish. He drove independently with gears fixed onto his car. He worked as a night watchman and in a factory making apparel for the armed forces. He lived a normal life.”
Patty’s other son, Kacy, has a master’s degree in Occupational Safety and works in Atlanta. He and his wife Kendra have a son, Emmerich.
Dealing with boards and Joshua’s passing, Coldiron pressed on. She worked at a local hospital as a family nurse-practitioner until, in April 2020, she was one of many to be laid off due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. She began working for a private-owned urgent care provider and had to travel for work. That was the turning point.
“The latter part of 2020 I decided if I am ever going to start my business now is the time,” Coldiron said. “I asked medical assistant Katie Pierce if she would help me. She jumped in and got the insurance and providers credentialed. We opened Hometown Urgent Care in Harlan County on January 4, 2021.”
Not only was opening her own practice what Coldiron needed, but it was also what the community needed as well.
“In Harlan, there is the emergency room and primary care offices,” Coldiron said. “I knew from working the ER there was a need for urgent care. My community had never had an urgent care medical center.”
Proof of that need was seen immediately. In the first five months of being open, Hometown Urgent Care has had more than 1,000 patients. The clinic employs two receptionists, three medical assistants, three nurse practitioners, and the office administrator. It is open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. to be accessible to working families.
“The community has welcomed us with open arms,” Coldiron said. “Parents who work and struggle to get their children or themselves to a primary care provider are grateful for health care in hours that will work for them.”
Coldiron knows that there are other communities like Harlan in need of an urgent care facility and intends to help fill that void in the future.
“My goal is to open more Hometown Urgent Care clinics in other rural areas that have a need for this sort of clinic and are having to utilize the emergency rooms for minor and urgent illness, especially after hours,” she said.
Coldiron’s drive and determination are apparent. With every setback, she seems to respond with even more resolve than ever. While that certainly comes from within, she credits FNU with developing her skills and preparing her to provide the care her community needs.
“Frontier Nursing University gave me the knowledge to make a profound impact in health care from pediatrics all the way to geriatrics,” she said. “Frontier taught me through the program experience, didactic course, and clinical skills, to be above standard. Frontier not only gave me knowledge, but they also gave me confidence in the assessment, diagnosis, and delivery of treatment.”