VA hospital care in Palo Alto can be a hassle for Modesto families. This place helps

The team from Beyer High School won the annual Stanislaus County Mock Trial Competition on Feb. 19, 2019.
The team from Beyer High School won the annual Stanislaus County Mock Trial Competition on Feb. 19, 2019.

Another site has opened in Palo Alto to provide free lodging for families of veterans and active service members getting hospital care.

Fisher House, a national nonprofit, dedicated a second home Feb. 16 at the Veterans Administration hospital in the Bay Area city. Families who live at least 50 miles away — that includes the Modesto area — can apply to stay there.

The new Fisher House doubled the capacity to 40 families per night. They each get a private bedroom and bathroom, and they share kitchen, dining, laundry and other living space. The first house was built in 2006.

Palo Alto is the hub of a VA service area that also offers inpatient care in Menlo Park and Livermore and outpatient clinics in Modesto, Stockton, Sonora and four other cities.

The Palo Alto hospital is a “polytrauma rehabilitation center,” providing some of the most intensive care in the VA system. Fisher House helps families avoid the stress of daily driving and the cost of lodging.

“Family support is an important part of the rehabilitation process,” said Thomas Fitzgerald III, director of the VA Palo Alto Health Care System, in a news release. “Having two homes now allows even more opportunity for us to provide a place for the families of our veterans to rest their head without worrying about the financial or logistical burdens of hotels.”

The Fisher House Foundation was founded in 1990 by the late Zachary Fisher, a real estate developer and philanthropist in New York City. The nonprofit now has houses at 56 military and VA hospitals around the nation, and one each in Germany and England.

Beyer tops mock trial

The team from Beyer High School won the 35th annual Stanislaus County Mock Trial Competition on Tuesday, Feb. 19. It will compete in the statewide event March 22 to 24 in Sacramento.

The contest calls on students to research and present prosecution or defense arguments in a fictional case. This year, it was about a man accused of threatening a coworker on social media and making a false police report via text message. Local attorneys volunteered to judge the four days of mock trail, with Superior Court judges presiding.

Beyer’s defense team defeated a Turlock High School prosecution team in the finals. Earlier rounds also involved Davis, Downey, Enochs, Gregori, Johansen and Modesto high schools.

Mike Richards coaches the Beyer team. It consists of Emily Bates, Bailey Brummel, Josh Corgiat, Briteil Danipour, Annika Denyer, Remington Hanson, Katiayna Lester, Kara Lewis, Jack Litke, Zoey Moffitt, John Nunnally, Leah O’Brien, Melody Padilla, Sophia Potochnik, Grace Sanders, Morgan Turner and Daniel Vermeulem.

Julian Aguilar of Turlock High won the Journalism Contest for reporting on the trial. Anna Lima of Turlock topped the Artist in the Courtoom portion.

The event is sponsored by the Stanislaus County Office of Education and the Education Foundation of Stanislaus County.

And finally ...

Dr. Damandeep Baidwan, a third-year resident at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto, will spend a year learning how to treat addiction in Southern California.

She was accepted into the Primary Care Addiction Medicine Fellowship at the Ventura County Medical Center. Only two fellows a year are chosen.

Baidwan will start in July, after graduating from the Valley Family Medicine Residency at Doctors. She plans to return to the Central Valley to continue her career.

Baidwan was born in Punjab, India, and moved to the United States after high school. She has volunteered with Sahaita, a nonprofit that screens uninsured patients in the Indian community for chronic health problems. She also has done autism research and worked on projects involving breast-feeding and childhood obesity.

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John Holland covers breaking news and has been with The Modesto Bee since 2000. He has covered agriculture for the Bee and at newspapers in Sonora and Visalia. He was born and raised in San Francisco and has a journalism degree from UC Berkeley.