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News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

Santa Clara Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a Los Altos Hills man they suspect repeatedly molested a child decades ago.

Detectives arrested Gregory Helfrich, 54, on a warrant at his Old Page Mill Road home April 27 and...

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Schools

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students


Courtesy of Jessica Harell
Blach Intermediate School seventh-grader Paris Harrell, who loves science and animals, recently received a scholarship from the local branch of the AAUW to attend Tech Trek camp.

It’s not every day that a junior hig...

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Community

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner


Federici

Longtime Los Altos resident Mario Federici, who turned 98 Feb. 24, is a man of many languages. He shared his knowledge with thousands of students during his long career as a teacher.

Federici was born and raised in Italy, where he stud...

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Comment

Attend an event, get involved, have fun: Editorial

You don’t have to run for city council to get involved in the community. Sometimes it can be as simple as attending a Los Altos event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities, as the May and June calendars are bustling with activity.

The Dow...

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Special Sections

Racing around Monterey

Racing around Monterey


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The easy handling of the VW Golf R, above, makes for an ideal ride along the Big Sur coast.

 

When automotive journalists are asked to list their favorite places in the world to drive, Monterey alway...

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Business

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations


Courtesy of Eureka
Eureka, a new restaurant in downtown Mountain View, highlights local craft beer and whiskeys on a menu of food spanning from sea to farm.

Craft beer and fancy whiskeys headline the menu at Eureka, the new restaurant that opene...

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People

Stepping Out

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'


Courtesy of Palo Alto Players
The Baker’s Wife, left, and Cinderella’s erstwhile Prince stand out in the Palo Alto Players production of “Into the Woods.”

Little Red Riding Hood sets forth at the outset of “Into the...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International


Courtesy of Los ALtos United Methodist Church
Hidden Villa will bring some of its farm animals to Los Altos United Methodist Church Sunday to support the nonprofit Heifer International.

Los Altos United Methodist Church is scheduled to salute th...

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A celebration like no other: Hospital hosts Neonatal Intensive Care Unit annual reunion


El Camino Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit nurse Gilda Primero, right, reunites with Monica Kough and Danny Kaea, holding son Eli, Sept. 7.

A recent reunion of graduates in Mountain View had absolutely nothing to do with diplomas. In fact, some of these graduates still wear diapers.

In what has become an annual tradition for the past 19 years, El Camino Hospital hosted a reunion of former patients – or “graduates” – and the staff of its 20-bed, Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

The Sept. 7 gathering, according to NICU Clinical Manager Jody Charles, RN, was among the largest ever hosted by the hospital – more than 200 families of premature babies shared memories, hugs and laughs with Charles’ NICU staff. Charles noted that the annual get-together serves as her staff’s reward for their tireless efforts in nursing preterm babies to health.

“It was so much fun,” Charles said. “It’s very heartwarming for us to see the families and see where they’re at. … It’s a bit of a mutual admiration society.”

Positive outcomes

The reunion included San Jose resident Monica Kough and her 17-month-old son, Eli. Like other families at the event, Kough credited the hospital’s NICU staff for turning what was a dire situation into a positive outcome.

During her 28th week of pregnancy, Kough said her worst fears came true when her uterus ruptured. What made the situation especially critical, she noted, was the fact that she gave birth to her son, Ty, at 23 weeks into pregnancy one year earlier at El Camino’s NICU. He lived just 20 minutes.

According to the March of Dimes, preterm birth is the leading cause of newborn death in the U.S. More than half a million babies are born prematurely each year. In California, more than 58,000 babies are born prematurely annually.

This time around, Kough again found herself at the NICU undergoing an emergency C-section. Underdeveloped because of his premature birth, Eli spent 68 days in the NICU and learned functions most full-term babies gain during the 36th week of pregnancy, such as sucking, swallowing and breathing simultaneously. He also received three blood transfusions during his stay at the hospital.

“It was the scariest experience of my life,” said Kough, who later became a March of Dimes Ambassador – a first among El Camino NICU families – to help her cope with the loss of Ty and help others. “I couldn’t help but have flashbacks from my previous experience.”

Kough said it was the hospital’s NICU staff that made the ultimate difference for her family. She noted that the unit’s medical professionals – from nurses to doctors and everyone in between – remained patient and compassionate with her, despite facing a barrage of medical questions and other expressed concerns.

“I don’t know how I would’ve made it out of there sanely without them,” Kough said of the hospital’s NICU staff. “You go into it thinking, ‘How can I ever leave and go home to sleep?’ … They treat you like a human being. That’s exactly what you need in that situation.”

“It’s a lot of conversations and a lot of repeating,” added Charles regarding handling patients and family members in the NICU. “I often remind them that we will have the same conversation a lot of times, and that’s OK. … I always tell people that we’re here to help them exhale.”

These days, Kough said, Eli is “thriving like any 17-month-old.” Kough now visits the NICU on occasion with Eli and said she’s always welcomed “with open arms and a ‘please come in.’”

Lifelong bonds

Charles noted that experiences like Kough’s often have an effect on her and her staff. At times, it’s not just the mothers and fathers who shed tears, but the staff’s nurses and physicians as well. On countless occasions, Charles said she’s seen doctors stay up all night tending to struggling babies. Those experiences, she added, create lifelong bonds between her staff and the families they serve.

“It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s OK, but the people who do it are extremely passionate about it,” she said. “It’s extremely rewarding to our staff to see that they make a difference. We are a part of those families for the rest of their lives. … We’re here for any baby.”

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