The Latest News

Registration Open for Feb. 1 Safe Sitter Course

January 20, 2020 – Students in grades 6 - 8 can learn the babysitting basics “ including first aid and rescue skills - in FHN's Safe Sitter® Essentials with CPR class.

The one-day class teaches child care skills, safety skills, and first aid and rescue skills as well as life and business skills. The instructor-led class features games and role-playing exercises and students will use manikins to practice rescue skills like choking rescue and CPR.

This course includes basic CPR practice but does NOT lead to certification. Registration is open for the next class, set for 9:30 a.m. - 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1 at FHN Memorial Hospital in Freeport.

The full-day course is $50, which includes a Safe Sitter Essentials Student Handbook and completion card. Financial assistance is available for eligible students; call 815-599-6707 for more information and to determine eligibility. Students may bring a sack lunch or purchase lunch at Cafe FHN.

For more information or to register for Safe Sitter Essentials, visit or call 815-599-6707.

FHN Memorial Hospital Implements Temporary IDPH Visitor Restrictions

January 13, 2020 – In accordance with an Illinois Department of Public Health recommendation, FHN Memorial Hospital in Freeport has put into action the following visitor restrictions for the health and safety of our patients and staff:

  •  No visitors under the age of 18 (including the OB unit, to protect our youngest patients).
  •  Only two (2) visitors per patient at one time.
  •  Visitors with fever, cough, or sore throat should NOT visit. If they MUST, masks are required (and will be provided).
  •  Patients hospitalized for flu may have visitors ONLY when necessary for emotional well-being or care.
  •  Respiratory hygiene/cough etiquette (cover coughs, tissue disposal immediately after use, hand sanitizer) MUST be followed at all times.

These restrictions apply to ALL hospital patients, including OB and Pediatrics - please check with the nurse on duty if you have any questions.

All medical services remain available to patients of all ages throughout FHN. Those who feel they or a family member may have the flu and could be contagious can take advantage of telemedicine services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through FHNow. Visit for details.

FHN Healthcare Career Scholarship Winners Announced

January 8, 2020 – Five area students have been awarded scholarships to help cover the cost of healthcare education. More than 50 outstanding students applied for the 2019 FHN Healthcare Career Scholarships and Diversity Scholarships this year.

Students applying for the scholarship write an essay about their career path along with their strengths and personal goals to support the healthcare needs of FHN's service area. The scholarship committee invited the top candidates for in-person interviews.

After the interviews, four winners were chosen to receive a $1,000 Healthcare Scholarship and one winner was chosen to receive a $1,000 Diversity Scholarship to help cover education expenses for the winter 2020 term. The 2019 FHN Healthcare Career Scholarship winners are:

Katherine Groezinger of Elizabeth, who is pursuing an occupational therapy degree at Midwestern University in Downers Grove, Ill.

Bailey Johnson of Freeport, who is pursuing a speech pathology degree at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater in Whitewater, Wis.

Keegan Koester of Freeport, who is pursuing a physical therapy degree at Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa

Emma Nelson of Forreston, who is pursuing a speech pathology degree at Elmhurst College in Elmhurst, Ill.

The 2019 Diversity Scholarship winner is:

Teylor Macon of Freeport, who is pursuing a nursing degree at Western Illinois University in Macomb, Ill.

"We are proud to offer these scholarships each year to area students who excel", said FHN Talent Acquisition Specialist Carol Boeke BSN, RN. "We are excited that they've chosen to pursue a future in the healthcare field and encourage them to keep FHN in mind for career guidance along their way, as well as when they've completed their education."

These scholarships are all funded by donations to the FHN Foundation.

Get FiTeam Challenge is Back for 2020!

January 3, 2020 – Have fun, learn about a healthy lifestyle, and compete for great prizes in this year’s FHN Get FiTeam Challenge!

For just $25 a person, teams of four can compete with other teams in a 12-week health and fitness program aimed at helping participants develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Online-only registration opens Monday, Jan. 6 at

The challenge officially begins January 26, after all participants have had a chance to get a baseline screening to note height, weight, BMI, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. (Screenings are set for Jan. 22, 23, and 25 – participants can choose a time online. Every participant must attend one of the scheduled screenings for his or her points to count; there will not be “make-up” dates.) Participants will receive a Get FiTeam t-shirt at their baseline screening.

Throughout the challenge, teams will have access to healthy recipes, health-related events and trial memberships at area health and fitness clubs. Individuals will earn points for their team with exercise, drinking enough water, and eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

Prizes will be awarded throughout the challenge, and at the end of the competition, up to six teams will have a chance at grand prizes. Each participant in the team that has the largest percent of weight loss will win a $250 gift certificate to a local health center/fitness partner or store of their choice (from the list provided on the website), and the team that earns the most challenge points will get a $250 gift certificate to a local health center/fitness partner or store of their choice (from the list provided on the website) for each team member.

For more information on FHN's Get FiTeam Challenge or to register, visit You can keep up with the challenge and get healthy tips by "liking" the Get FiTeam Challenge on Facebook.

FHN Welcomes 2020's First Born, Walter Maurice Hayward III

January 2, 2020 – The first baby born in 2020 at FHN Memorial Hospital in Freeport came into the world at 2:43 p.m. on January 1 - Walter Maurice Hayward III arrived more than 6 weeks early! He is healthy and spending some time in the FHN Memorial Hospital Family Birthing Center nursery.

Walter is the first child for happy parents Kaylie Spradlin and Walter Hayward II of Freeport. He debuted at 4 pounds, 8 ounces and measured 17.5 inches long. Walter is a true New Year's baby – his mother’s contractions started at midnight on New Year's Eve.

The happy parents were presented with gift baskets filled with infant care items provided by FHN Obstetrics staff and the family of last year’s FHN New Year’s baby.

"My number one wish for the new year is for our baby to be healthy and thrive," Spradlin said." We’re excited and a little nervous, but we’ll be focused on him."

Jones-Farrar Group is Judges' Choice in FHN Community Festival of Trees

December 18, 2019 – A tree from Jones-Farrar IB World School won first place in the FHN Community Festival of Trees judges' vote and third place in the People's Choice voting - the only double winner in this year's competition.

The group will receive a $500 check for its first-place win and a $100 check for its third-place prize for its tree reflecting this year's Festival of Trees theme: My Heart is the Gift!

The first-place People's Choice award winner was The Spirit of Christmas is in our Hearts, by the Open Bible Learning Center. They'll receive a check for $500.

Book Spirits from VOICES claimed the judges' second place, winning $300. For the first time ever, there was a tie for the judges' third place tree, so Empire Elementary School (Oh the Places You Can Go) and Aquin High School Art Class (A Colorful Christmas) will each receive a check for $75.

The Lincoln-Douglas First Grade tree reflecting this year's theme, If you can't find the spirit of the holiday in your heart, you'll never find it under a tree, won second place in the People's Choice voting. They'll receive a check for $200.

Prize winners - both the panel of judges' choices and the People's Choice winners - are marked with a sign and will be on display at the Freeport Public Library through Dec. 28.

This year's Community Festival of Trees drew 18 entries and a total of 729 People's Choice ballots were cast from December 2 – 14.

FHN Welcomes New NP Tamisha Verner

December 18, 2019 – FHN is proud to announce that board-certified nurse practitioner Tamisha Verner, FNP-BC, is welcoming new patients at her practice in the Med/Peds department of the FHN Family Healthcare Center - Burchard Hills in Freeport.

Verner is a familiar face; she has cared for women and their babies in FHN Memorial Hospital's Obstetrics department since 2003. She is a breastfeeding advocate and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.

Verner was awarded FHN's Advanced Practice Scholarship and earned her master's degree and family nurse practitioner certification at Saint Anthony College of Nursing in Rockford. She holds a bachelor's degree from Lewis University in Romeoville, Ill., and an associate's degree in nursing from Highland Community College.

She has served as the Doula Liaison between FHN and the Stephenson County Health Department. She's a Freeport native and proud Freeport High School graduate, and loves giving back to her community by volunteering at many different events.

To make an appointment with Tamisha Verner, call the FHN Med/Peds department at 815-599-7790.

FHN Welcomes New NP Heather Lutz

December 16, 2019 – FHN is proud to announce that board-certified nurse practitioner Heather Lutz, FNP-BC, is welcoming new patients at her practice in the Family Medicine department of the FHN Family Healthcare Center - Burchard Hills in Freeport.

Lutz may be a familiar face; she has cared for many patients as a nurse in the Emergency Department at FHN Memorial Hospital since 2009.

Lutz was awarded FHN's Advanced Practice Scholarship and earned her master's degree and family nurse practitioner certification at Saint Anthony College of Nursing in Rockford. She holds a bachelor's degree from Saint Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa.

To make an appointment with Heather Lutz, call the FHN Family Medicine department at 815-599-7170.

Family Medicine Physician Lucio Martinez, MD Returns to FHN

December 2, 2019 – FHN is pleased to announce that family medicine physician Lucio Martinez, MD has returned and is welcoming new patients at the FHN Family Healthcare Center – Burchard Hills in Freeport.

Dr. Martinez cared for patients of all ages for 20 years at the FHN Family Healthcare Center – Forreston. He also has served as part of FHN's hospitalist team.

He holds a medical degree from Rush Medical College in Chicago, and served his residency at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill.

To make an appointment with Dr. Martinez, call his office at FHN Family Healthcare Center – Burchard Hills at 815-599-7740. He will see patients in the Internal Medicine department on the first floor. Visit for more information on Dr. Martinez and family medicine services available at FHN.

Pertussis Alert for Northwest Illinois

November 22, 2019 – An outbreak of pertussis in nearby Ogle County has health officials in Stephenson County and FHN on alert for more local pertussis cases.

Pertussis – also known as whooping cough – is a highly contagious respiratory disease that can cause serious complications – even death – particularly in babies. It spreads from person to person through coughs and sneezes, and people who are infected are contagious up to 2 weeks before symptoms appear.

“Pertussis is preventable with a vaccine,” said FHN Infection Preventionist Margie Kochsmier MSN RN CMSRN CIC. “Babies can get their first dose of the DTap (tetanus and diphtheria and pertussis) vaccine at 2 months of age, but before then, it's up to the infant's family to keep him or her away from people who are infected and to seek medical attention if symptoms worsen.”

“Because family members and friends can be infected and contagious before they even know they have whooping cough, we are urging everyone to make sure that they are up-to-date on their TDap immunizations,” Kochsmier said.

Whooping cough starts with symptoms much like a cold (runny nose, low-grade fever, and a mild cough). The characteristic “whoop” intake of air after a cough doesn't develop until 1 – 2 weeks after the disease starts.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends people of all ages be vaccinated against pertussis. Babies and children get doses at 2, 4, and 6 months, at 15-18 months, and again between the ages of 4 and 6.

Children should receive a booster dose of TDap at around 11 or 12 years of age, and teens and adults who didn't get a booster as a preteen should get a booster now.

To protect young babies, pregnant women should get a TDap booster during the third trimester of each pregnancy, and those who care for babies should make sure they are up-to-date on vaccinations.

“Even if you've had whooping cough or had the TDap vaccine as a child, you should get a booster to protect the young children in your life,” Kochsmier said.

Download our brochure comparing the symptoms of influenza, the common cold, and pertussis.

Listen to Margie Kochsmier, MSN, RN, CMSRN, FHN Infection Control, talk about Pertussis on the Dial-a-Doc radio show.