The Real Truth Behind The Public Health Care System In Freeport Every Citizen Should Know


Freeport – As some of you know I put out a post last week on Today In The Port and I asked if any of you have had a bad experience at the ER at FHN. I didn’t say anyone in particular or focus on any particular event,  I said I had heard from a few people about the ER and some of the doctors and I just asked if you’ve had a bad experience.


Why on earth would you put that out there like that. Why would you say the doctors or nurses are horrible there, that the hospital doesn’t do any good, or why would you dare disgrace or incite negative about all the 1,500 people who are employed there. Why. You should apologize. I doubt anyone could do “what those nurses” do and on and on.  I, myself, have taken the backlash of many comments and questions, regardless if they even pertained to anything actually said or not.

So let’s talk about all that for a moment.

If you view the entire thread of public comments, first, it is overwhelming clear the positive within the public about FHN, the people, the staff, the doctors and the nurses that work there. You are very passionate about how they give of themselves.

The stories otherwise that are there are old, many a long time ago, many have responded to some of them and as some have noted, they are only one sided. That’s not at all to minimize what someone said, it’s just it’s pretty clear everyone gets that. Some are also comments from people who no longer even live here and haven’t for decades.

We know.

Don’t be surprised by the breaking news I’m about to reveal, but… they’re a hospital. If Bill Engval were here right now he’d probably say, “here’s your sign“. Of course everyone. Of course they have done all of those great things. FHN has made enormous advancements in patient care over decades and decades. They’ve saved countless lives and have helped what can’t be less than hundreds of thousands of people over time. Even if, or if ever they may have not been as good, they were STILL doing all of those things. We get that, we know that, that’s OBVIOUS

While the tone of the thread was wholeheartedly in support of FHN, if it weren’t, it wouldn’t be to this pages’ fault anymore than it would, to it’s credit get, for the passionate way our community did show support.  While some point the finger at me for every bad thing said, (which is fine) I would just propose, will you not also credit me for all the positive said too?

More importantly, is there an underlying message here that we might all be missing?

You see, the rules here are simple. The public can hate (or love) anything posted here. I put myself out there and I say, here I am, here’s my town, I was born here, I’m proud of it, here’s some really great people, some cool stories, I’m showing you what I can and I hope you like it. You’ve always had the option of not. At the end of the day, I’m just a hometown kid who loves his town. I’m one person. I am the little guy.

Like you, or unlike you though, I was born in this town. My grandparents, parents, cousins, aunts, uncles and my own family is from this town. I still visit the graves of a family I loved dearly who are buried in this town. I’ve seen Freeport from a lot of different perspectives over the past 40 years. Many I would guess, a lot of you perhaps have never seen.

I’ve seen people shoot up drugs, get saved by God, I’ve watched teens commit suicide and I’ve spent hours with the elderly in the last years of their lives. I know adults who I consider friends who can hardly read past a 3rd grade level and I know educators and scholars who teach our community some of the most intellectual things one could know. I also have one childhood friend who lives in public housing and another who lives on Marvin Lane.

My sister is a teacher for special needs children at an area school. My brother was previously a pastor and is now an educator at some huge christian college. My Dad came from the East side of Freeport, the “other side of the tracks” as he used to say. I grew up feeling, “he made it out“, he made it to the “other side” of the tracks.  

My Dad’s first toy was a broken toy gun he found in the garbage. He told my son years later for a school project that my son was doing that he played with that gun for years. My Dad’s Father died when my Dad was a just a teen.

Sometimes we would travel to the east side of Freeport and visit my Dad’s side of the family, my Grandma. The house is no longer there. It’s now just an empty lot filled with memories of my life but I saw a completely different side to the world during those early years. Kind, generous, loving people who the only difference between us were material things.  

Their house wasn’t as nice, they didn’t have transportation, they were dirt poor but they were the same people. Actually, they were better in some ways. I remember feeling so humbled to be there. I never left without a silver dollar or a .50 cent piece from Uncle Charles and some small cheap gift that I thought was awesome from Grandma Fallen. Never. These two people who had absolutely nothing, always giving me something, right here in Freeport.

My Mom, I don’t even know where to begin. My Mom as helped countless people that I couldn’t even begin to name. She has helped homeless people get stable, alcoholics to recover, she has helped teenager after teenager now tuned adult with growing up problems, family and home problems, all of whom love and appreciate her to this day.

My Mom has taken people in, given them food, shelter, transportation and I’ve seen people’s lives transform because of this one woman’s thankless time with them.

My mom has helped out in education for years, she even (purposely) goes out and sits at the jail just to give of her time to talk with people who at the end of the day just need another kind of friend and message. I’ve sat in the front row to an unwavering example of non-stop paying a life forward and an endless array of examples, that have been around me all the days of my existence.

Thing is, they didn’t do it for wealth, fame or glory, they’re not public leaders or influential government officials, they’re just common people who you wouldn’t know if you passed them on the street, yet, they are people who wake up everyday with just the simple thought to do something for someone else.  I will admit, I can get a little passionate and sometimes protective over my town and the people who live here. I make no apologies to anyone for that. I just don’t always see Freeport (or the world) through the same glasses as everyone else.

See, I’m not passionate for the nurses. I’m not passionate for the doctors, either. I’m also not passionate for those of you who do help and give within our community. I’m passionate for the plethora of people you all serve. 

Equally, I’m not passionate for the mayor, the city council or the county board chairman, I’m passionate for the people they work for. I’m not the guy who’s hung up on the pastor, I’m the guy who’s hung up on the people in the congregation. I don’t speak for the corporation, I speak for their customers and wow are they ever bombarded with all kinds of destructive messages that drive us apart.

Whether we want to admit it or not, small towns are dying, people’s jobs are leaving, taxes are getting higher, our political environment is a mess, big corporations have moved in and the general public is essentially absent from it all, barely trusting anyone anymore. We make the same appeal over and over. Help here, donate there, vote over here and we pick up small pieces of a minority population who ever gives what we say the time of day. (Notice I didn’t say, because they don’t care.)

While I’m not necessarily a very religious person, I have read the Bible and I openly admit that in my opinion, the Bible has a lot of good life lessons inside its pages.  As are many other books, I believe the Bible is a book well deserved to be something one could live their lives by. I bring it up because in it, it quotes a man you may have heard of who once said, “it is not the healthy who need a doctor“.  I happen to believe what those words say.

How I vary from those words though is I’m not waiting for a Jesus, a doctor, a nurse, a police man or some magic fairy dust to reach people for me. I feel I have a responsibility to also reach them myself. I am a little different than most though. Statistics and me don’t necessarily agree with each other. 

Freeport hasn’t really ever seen anything like Today In The Port. I’ve created a LOT of attention here and pushed the edge in many ways, all of which have been for the positive. I’ve stood in front of a camera and shouted with excitement my love of this town and it’s people and, I mean every word of it. 

Some of you may say, yeah it’s pretty cool, but so what, you’re just providing some local news, what’s the big deal, and to that I say, some also thought it was just a section of dirt, while others saw Gold in the ground and started digging. 

I see Gold in our people, but it’s buried deep. I’m digging, but it’s not the way our small little Pretzel town may be used to. 

See, I’ve tried telling you positive things about areas of the hospital before. What I showed you though, wasn’t that interesting. I interviewed Terry Egan who is the Executive Director of the FHN Charitable Foundation about a Big Brother, Big Sister event. There’s only like 25 or 30 kids I believe that could use your help. Not many of you really engaged or cared. Just the number of people reading this article alone could solve that problem probably by dinner time. Certainly get the ball rolling. Why doesn’t that ever go viral? 

I’ve put up pictures and announcements of new doctors  in areas of care and nobody really seemed to give a hoot. I’ve brought you information about quit smoking classes, diabetes classes, not to mention the story I did at the FHN Burchard Hills Clinic where I showcased an entire event filled with multiple healthcare and care related organizations, as well as the people who run and operate them. A hospital is the ultimate representation of care over others.

So I don’t get it. I asked all of you to help. Did our population decrease to under 50 people?  Why as a culture are we so passionate over a Facebook post more so than our passion on those REAL LIFE KIDS that actually live in this city? I told everyone about them. I also told you about the Boy’s and Girls Club, the United Way, the Salvation Army, the Madonna Renewal Center, foster kids, school supplies for kids and ways you can help fight crime. 

Did you know, that if every person in our community was “like the hospital” there would be no kids in need at Big Brothers Big Sisters because all of you would have already given your time to a boy or girl who needs it?  There’s not hundreds of kids. It’s not a local epidemic.

Along the same line, did you also know that crime really isn’t rampant, out of control, gone haywire?  I mean, we’re not “out-numbered”. Did you know that if every citizen in Freeport patrolled the streets and just made our presence known, in 6 months violent crime and thefts would virtually all but disappear? Ever heard of Conversations Over Pizza? I’ve told you about that too.

Is it just the hospital’s job? Is it just up to me to tell you the news and only up to them to make people better? Is it really only up to the guys and gals in blue to protect our neighborhood? It’s our neighborhood! Is that how it’s supposed to be? 

Why are we so absent during elections? Why do we put up with such high taxes, government regulations, bad education, Illinois politicians who have ruined our state? Why? I know you care. We outnumber them all. We can out-vote, out-attend, out-number all of the things we don’t like, so… why don’t we? 

That’s community? 

I’m here, to simply generate a different message. Today In The Port is born with the message of giving, helping, doing something good for another and is here for a positive community.  Why isn’t the majority like this though? Why is it only the minority? Why? Because as unfortunate as it may be, sometimes you have to drive through the ghetto to get to the nice part of town. Nobody wants to drive through the ghetto.

In a way, I’m carrying out a family tradition. I however, have no desire to reach one person at a time, I desire to reach thousands of people at a time. I want to channel a passion in our people where Tiffany Nieman of the United Way, Larry Williams of the Freeport Housing Authority, Terry Egan of FHN Charitable Foundation and many others call me and say that they are overwhelmed with community support because the majority acts in big numbers.  

The passion is there. You’ve just proven it.  We’re all good people. I know you have good intentions, yet at the end of the day the majority of us are emotionally absent within the confines of a truly positive community.  As a culture now, we are not a culture of a majority. The minority helps the minority. The minority votes, the minority attends school board meetings, the minority pays it forward. The majority of us, do nothing.  “They’ll take care of it“, we say and I’m, just as at fault as you because I’ve said it too.  Is more too much to expect though? Are my standards too high for us? 

We have a very passionate audience.  While I’m grateful, it’s as we all should be!  If there was ever even a doubt, I hope the ER post shows clearly you are. Look how passionate you are to defend with vigor the good that “others” do. 

Today In The Port proposes a new concept, new questions, a different way to look at a community and to stand as an example of the power of one to do something positive. Sometimes, the only way to get your attention is through allowing you to passionately defend something that otherwise you wouldn’t have given the time of day for.  I’ll give you an example.

About a month ago I wrote an article about a Freeport High School teacher. The title of the article could have been seen as shocking to some in our small town. I know a few people immediately un-liked Today In The Port without ever even reading the article, which is too bad. The same will also happen with this title, which I’ll add, none are the people I’m trying to reach anyway.

What people don’t know, is that the teacher the article was written about thanked me in person, face to face for the kind words that I said. The title of the article was, “New Video Reveals Something Seriously Wrong With Freeport High Teacher Tim Conners” and it absolutely blew up.

Tim’s high school class occasionally puts out videos. They call themselves the Pretzel Pride Network and sometimes they’ll put out school news and do other serious or funny off the wall skits. Usually Tim is in them and usually, as is his style, he’s doing something goofy. 

Normally his class videos get maybe 30-40 views on YouTube. Some 100, maybe 150, but that’s the highest they get and there’s a lot of videos on their channel. The article I wrote brought his video over 4,000 views.

Some of the comments were, “I was so mad when I saw the title of this article, but this is the BEST ARTICLE ever!” Another person said, “I have never met this teacher, but this is the best compliment a teacher can have. I believe my heart actually smiled as I read this“. Engaging, passionate, response and all for the good of our people and our community and, 15,000 people read that story. That is only one example of many others.

If I were to have titled the story, “Great Teacher Tim Conners Does a Video“, nobody would have cared. My article reached people who would have never otherwise heard the wonderful story of this really cool, great teacher in this neat city of Freeport, Illinois. Because of that, I reached thousands upon thousands more people about the good news of Freeport and one of it’s “star” teachers. 

Hate me for the negative the ER post brought or love me for asking the question and all the positive said, either way, I hope you realize what I’m trying to show you. More importantly, I hope you realize what you are showing to yourself. You ARE passionate about the good people do, but the passion is hidden and not openly displayed outwardly with vigor to the public, unless something “shocking” happens. While you are passionate in defense about what “they” do, you are not as enthusiastic to help when it comes to yourself.

You have fight in you. You ARE defensive over how other people help those in our community. You carry a lot of the same passion whether you’re a doctor or not, but as I myself have shown you, as my family and those around me have shown me, you don’t have to be a doctor, rich, influential or anything special to do something impactful in a positive way. 

At the end of the day, that is everything Today In The Port is about and stands for.

I can’t by myself help these organizations. I can’t help every grandma, poor person, family in turmoil, alcoholic, child, student, I can’t make our community better, prevent much of the crime, give us more jobs all by myself, but all of us can together if only the majority of us would just stand up.

The difference is, if I put up an article that says “Neighborhood Watch Meeting”, nobody cares, reads it, or goes. If I put up an article that says “Shots Fired” which may have happened because the community “didn’t” attend the neighborhood watch meeting, thousands of you show up with anticipation. I want the thousands of you to show up in other ways because I know deep inside, you really do want the same things as we all do. 

It is my hope that the passion which everyone here displays about our town, people, places and city never dies. That you see the passion we all have and the passion we all display as a great thing for our community. I hope that you can see we could all, including me, do more.

Fortunately for all of us, a lot of people like Today In The Port. I’d like to think it’s because it gives us a different view of Freeport, it is really positive, it’s not necessarily politically correct and it gives people the freedom to discuss a multitude of topics openly and passionately. I’ll openly admit, I want you to have a more powerful voice.

I just desire to take that passion to the next level and into the heart of our community, to people who may never hear it otherwise and through that, change the majority with a different message. I want to change a culture.  Lofty as it may be, I see Freeport setting a standard for communities everywhere. I see us, right here in Freeport impacting a nation with a new type of community, a new passion, a new way of thought and a new way to community development.

I want to channel your so obvious passion towards the real issue, which in this case I think we all understand at this point isn’t the doctor, nurse, teacher or police officer. Those are all obvious. Of course they do amazing things for others.

Our public health care system isn’t them though, it’s us and what isn’t always so obvious or present, is what we do and the real truth of all that we can do.  

That, is today’s top story, today in the port.

Leave a Reply