2017 Couriers Leave a Lasting Impact in the Communities They Served

The 2017 Courier Program is coming to an end! While they were only here for a mere 8 weeks, the Couriers were able to accomplish and experience many things! Couriers spent an average of 35-40 hours a week at their clinical sites and community partners. Spanning across Leslie, Perry, and Clay Counties in Kentucky and Wise County, Virginia, Couriers worked with 12 organizations!


Prior to starting their experiences, seven Couriers had the opportunity to attend FNU’s annual Diversity Impact. They learned about diversity in healthcare and also attended a session about the history of Appalachia. You watch the session here. Outside of their sites, Couriers have also had the opportunity to have meals with Dr. Julie Marfell, the Dean of FNU, and Jean Fee, a pioneer graduate and former nurse on horseback with FNS and Mary Breckinridge. In July, 7 Couriers assisted with Red Bird Mission’s annual health fair. They also spent a weekend in Wise, VA at the largest Remote Area Medical (RAM) event in the country. In addition to all of this service,Couriers also assisted with six student dinners at the Big House.


As part of their site work, Couriers have led a special project created for their site. These special projects can widely vary. Some are more administrative such as Ronnie Sloan and Brigid Horan, who worked on the Red Bed Health Fair organizing, contacting vendors, and making food vouchers for upcoming micro clinics. Brigid also worked with her supervisor at Red Bird to provide leftover food from the camp she led to families struggling with food insecurity. Others projects were more direct, such as Calla Michalak working to acquire pedometers for patients at Hometown Clinic. Brie Belz worked on informative literature dispelling myths about needle exchange programs, and Matt Hodges who worked working introducing Narcan® into local clinics.


Each Courier is listed below with all of the sites they have served at within their 8 weeks and a description of their special project:

  • Brie Belz: Served with Mary Breckinridge ARH Hospital, Kentucky River District Health Department, and The Well with Big Creek Missions. She worked on informative literature dispelling myths about needle exchange programs for members of the public.

  • Claire Gasparovich: Served with Health Wagon and Camp Bethel in Wise, VA. She created systems to provide more efficient development for next year’s interns working on Health Wagon’s Remote Area Medical (RAM) event.

  • Matt Hodges: Served with Kentucky Mountain Health Alliance Little Flower Clinic and The Well with Big Creek Missions. He established a partnership between Little Flower and the homeless shelter in Perry County to increase patient registration.

  • Brigid Horan: Served with Red Bird Mission. She worked to provide leftover food from the summer camp at Red Bird to families struggling with food insecurity and created food vouches for upcoming micro clinics.

  • Brittany Imel: Served with Mary Breckinridge ARH Hospital, the Leslie County Public Library, and the Stinnett Community Center. She worked with Dr. Haas, the hospital’s new pediatrician, to create and present health programming for youth attending Big Creek Missions’ summer camp.

  • Calla Michalak: Served with Hometown Clinic and Bluegrass Care Navigators. She worked to provide pedometers to all diabetic patients at Hometown Clinic.

  • Ronnie Sloan: Served with Red Bird Mission, Cumberland Valley District Health Department, and Pathfinders of Perry County. She worked with the Red Bird Health Fair by organizing fair activities and contacting vendors.

  • Zandy Stovicek: Served with Kentucky River District Health Department, Stinnett Community Center, and Bluegrass Care Navigators. She worked with the health department to revamp prenatal care within Leslie County.


The Couriers have been kept very busy the summer serving others, but they have also taken part in an experience that provide a view into what it is like to work as a healthcare provider in rural and underserved communities. We enjoyed having our eight Couriers this summer, and we will be sad to see them leave! Their last day is July 29.