Tuesday, July 6, 2010 12:00 AM

Longtime hospital leader honored as Community's 'Ultimate'

When it comes to the title “Ultimate People” anyone who knows registered nurse Bruce Kinder understands how he falls into this category.

Kinder is one of those rare people that, “If he walked off a cliff, we’d follow him, no question,” says longtime colleague Lynn Bennink.  He leads by example and would never expect more from anyone else than he does himself, she said.

Community Medical Foundation named Kinder as one of Community’s 2010 Ultimate People for his leadership and the example he sets in patient care and giving back.  The “Ultimate People” program, in its second year, will recognize honorees at the upcoming Foundation’s Alliance “Ultimate Party” on Friday, July 16 at Weber BMW in Fresno.

That’s why when he talks about giving back to Community Medical Centers’ mission – people listen.

Today, two very tangible projects Kinder hopes people will be investing in are on Community’s downtown Fresno and Clovis hospital campuses.  Downtown, it’s Terry’s House, rising two stories high at Fresno and R streets.  And in the heart of the Clovis campus, the expansion structures tower as high as five stories in places.

While these two projects are physically noticeable on the map, Kinder says other donor-investors enjoy giving to areas you might not so readily see – like a memorial donation or a donation to a specific program.  His theory is to “just give,” no matter your interest, because in the end it all goes to supporting Community’s mission – to improve the health status of the region and promote medical education.

Known for his leadership at the former University Medical Center, Kinder now serves as executive director of nurse clinical operations and informatics at Community Regional Medical Center.  While he’s worn many hats working at Community over the years, one he’s very proud of is supporting the hospital’s mission.

This belief echoes Bennink’s remarks - his staff love him and co-workers say he’s the real thing. It “comes from the heart” about how Kinder “feels” and treats patients.

Bennink says Kinder rarely loses his “cool” and even in the face of handling the patients of a 50-car pile-up on Freeway 99 or an emergency room crowded to the brink, there’s always that compassion and caring.  However, put him in the stands while his daughters are playing volleyball and he turns into a different person.  “He gets so intense at these games that his wife won’t even sit with him!” said longtime friend and colleague Lynn Bennink.

Just a few years ago he was charged with moving then-University Medical Center to the new downtown location at Community Regional. His hard work (along with many others) paid off and made the transition not only smooth but an effort in which to be proud.

One of Kinder’s favorite stories of extraordinary care was years ago when he worked at then-Valley Medical Center and one of his patients was in a motor vehicle accident and badly burned.  The burn survivor’s wife went into labor and the baby – not doing well or expected to survive the day – had to be transferred to another hospital.  Knowing what this father must be feeling, Kinder packed up the patient (burns and all) and made special arrangements for him to see and hold his baby for the first time. While both father and baby were in critical condition, they both survived the ordeal.

Kinder’s work over the last few decades – from a registered nurse to hospital executive – has been one of serving the most injured, the most needy, with the highest of integrity. Colleagues, such as Bennink, say he very much deserves to be recognized for his untiring service.

While health care may be volatile these days at best, Kinder sums up his thoughts: “It might not be the easiest place, but it’s the greatest place to be … what more could you ask for?”

For information on employee giving, please call Community Medical Foundation at (559) 459-2670.

This story was written by Mary Lisa Russell. She can be reached at mrussell@communitymedical.org.