Tuesday, November 11, 2014 12:00 AM

Couple grateful for health careers give back

Grateful for their healthcare careers that supported them over the years, Carl and Lulu Mitchell decided it was time to give back to Community Medical Centers. Through their foundation the Mitchells made a $1 million gift to Women’s and Children’s Services at Clovis Community Medical Center where Lulu worked as a registered nurse for years.

pregnant patient consults with nurse while laying in hospital bed“The experience for newborn babies and moms at Clovis Community just got even better with this generous gift from the Carl and Lulu Mitchell Family Foundation,” said Katie Zenovich, vice president for Corporate Development at Community. “They are a fabulous caring couple who truly want to make life better for others.” Zenovich said this contribution will do just that by helping to fund programs, services and the latest technology. “I can’t think of a better baby gift!” Zenovich said. Part of the last milestone in Clovis Community’s $300 million-plus expansion was moving labor & delivery and postpartum to the newly remodeled dedicated Women’s Pavilion.

“Having all the services in one location is not only good for our staff, but better for patients and their families,” said Jill Kienow, director of Women’s and Children’s Services. “It makes it easier for everybody to get around when your resources are in one central location.” As a “People’s Choice” hospital, Clovis Community is a popular place to have a baby. In July, a record 450 babies were born at the hospital. An average of a kindergarten class is born every two days at Clovis Community – totaling 4,500 babies overall for 2013.

The Women’s Pavilion includes 16 labor and delivery rooms, 40 postpartum rooms, 14 newborn nursery beds and a new 8-bed Level II neonatal intensive care unit, which keeps moms and babies together. With the help from the Mitchells, mothers, babies and families will receive expert care through the entire birthing process – something Lulu knows very well as a former nurse at Clovis Community.

Their story goes back almost three decades where Carl first met Lulu as a nurse drawing his blood for donation at the California Blood Center in Fresno. He went back three times after that to donate just so he could ask her out. Lulu laughed at his persistence. But Carl rebutted – “It paid off.”

Just like Lulu, Carl enjoyed a long and productive career in healthcare. He began his career as a radiology technician and then advanced to nuclear medicine, where in 1972 he was instrumental in creating the nuclear medicine program at then-Sierra Hospital. He continued his work in nuclear medicine for the rest of his career.

The Mitchells spent their careers helping others, and now they just want to continue that tradition with their foundation. Hundreds of people each year will benefit from their gift to the second floor postpartum unit at Clovis Community. Lulu said for years she worked just across the way from the sign that now bears their family name. It makes her very proud.

“It is better to serve others than it is to serve yourself,” Lulu said and Carl added “It’s all about helping others.”

Mary Lisa Russell and Ginny Joslin reported this story. She can be reached at MedWatchToday@CommunityMedical.org.