In the latest column, news about Palo Alto celebrating its new "sibling city" relationship with Bloomington, Indiana; the 1 millionth COVID-19 PCR test processed at Stanford Medicine; and a longtime local Realtor's plans to retire.
FAMILY TIES ... Few people epitomize the link between Palo Alto and its new "sibling city," Bloomington, Indiana, like Tara VanDerveer, who played college basketball at Indiana University and cemented her career as a coaching legend at Stanford University.
During a virtual celebration on Tuesday morning, she recalled her time in Indiana, where she learned basketball from legendary coaches Bobby Knight and Bea Gorton, and offered her thoughts on the new sibling relationship.
"If we can encourage sibling or sisterhood between ... the people of both cities — Palo Alto and Bloomington — I think it would be a great service," VanDerveer said. She also invited Indiana University sports teams to come to California and play at Stanford.
The light-hearted event featured interviews with two pairs of siblings (in each case one lives in Palo Alto and the other in Bloomington) and trivia hosted by Palo Alto Mayor Pat Burt. (Those who participated learned that the Grateful Dead originated in Palo Alto while Van Halen lead singer David Lee Roth was born in Bloomington.)
The crowd of participants also heard from Vicki Veekner, founder of Sibling Cities USA, and Cornell William Brooks, the NAACP's former president and CEO. Brooks, who serves on the Sibling Cities USA advisory board, talked about the fissures that have developed in the nation's democracy over race and class and lauded the new partnership between the cities. "This is something to be excited about, something to rejoice in and certainly lend support to," Brooks said.
1 MILLION AND COUNTING ... Stanford Medicine recently marked a milestone in the pandemic nearly two years since the disease took hold around the world. The medical center's clinical virology laboratory processed its 1 millionth COVID-19 PCR test on Feb. 10, Stanford Medicine shared in a news article this week.
The landmark is the result of nearly 80,000 hours of work at Stanford Medicine, which was one of the first academic medical centers nationwide to gain the Food and Drug Administration's emergency use authorization for its coronavirus PCR test.
Initially, tests were administered to Stanford's adult and pediatric patients, then quickly became available to other medical facilities in Northern California. The number of tests that have been processed is over five times the number of diagnostic tests usually processed in a two-year span, according to Stanford Medicine.
"Laboratory staff have worked incredibly hard throughout the pandemic," Dr. Benjamin Pinsky, the laboratory's director, said in the article. "The demands of the past two years have been relentless, but they have been so resilient and determined to deliver the timely results needed to appropriately care for our patients while also protecting those caring for them."
Staff were hard at work during the omicron wave this winter, processing 20,000 tests in seven days during the height of the surge. One-quarter of those tests came back with positive results, according to Stanford Medicine.
Staff commemorated the milestone by posing for a photo in the lab, with some holding whiteboards that said 1 million.
A WELL-DESERVED RETIREMENT ... After a 44-year career in the local real estate industry, Bob Gerlach, vice president and manager of the Compass Palo Alto office, is set to retire on March 1.
Gerlach began his career at the age of 22. He was one of the youngest Realtors in the Bay Area at that time. He originally worked for Fox & Carskadon and quickly moved up the ranks to a management position. His first office was in Los Altos, and two years later, he opened the Palo Alto office.
Gerlach managed that office for six years and in 1992 moved to Alain Pinel Realtors as the broker manager of their new Palo Alto office. Gerlach said becoming broker manager at Alain Pinel was his greatest achievement. While there, he not only recruited some of the best Realtors in Palo Alto, but also established one of the strongest brands in the real estate community.
In 2019, Alain Pinel Realtors was acquired by Compass, a New York-based real estate company with a strong focus on technology. Gerlach was instrumental in guiding his office through this transition. Ron Gable, a seasoned veteran of the real estate industry, will take over the management responsibilities of the Compass Palo Alto office.