Double the Talent, Double the Care

Their pathway to the Gorge was a journey shaped by the pursuit of clinical excellence, service to humanity and love. As a youngster who grew up in Oregon, Timothy Gobble could never imagine he would meet his future wife, Claire in medical school. But that is exactly what happened when both were studying to be physicians at Loma Linda University (LLU) School of Medicine.

“She was in her third year and I was in my second, and we worked on some projects together,” Tim recalls. The couple realized they had much more in common than just a shared quest to become physicians, and soon were engaged. Claire finished one year ahead of Tim but spent an additional year studying. They married the day after they graduated medical school.

After graduation, they completed residencies—Claire at Family Medicine of Southwest Washington in Vancouver, and Tim at Providence Portland Medical Center. But they were inspired by the medical missions that first Tim, and then Claire, performed overseas while still in medical school.

“When I was in pre-med, I did a mission in Nigeria with Loma Linda doctors and was very impressed,” he says. “I was inspired by that.” After his first year of medical school, he was given the opportunity to do another mission and went to Papua New Guinea. “I thought, with all the opportunity that I have been given, I wanted to give back to do something similar if given the chance.” Then he met Claire, and by the time they were finishing medical school and about to marry, they both went to Malawi and completed a month-long rotation at Malamulo Adventist Hospital before graduating and enjoyed it. Claire thought, “It would be great if there was an opportunity for us to do a longer commitment in Malawi.” They put themselves on a list of physicians who were willing to spend five years abroad, caring for those less fortunate in third world countries.

Before finishing his residency, Tim got a call from the head of LLU. “He asked if we wanted to go to Malawi,” he recounts. “It was very appealing because we could go do some teaching, as well as hands-on care. Claire wasn’t interested in doing surgery and would only be doing clinic work and consults in the hospital, which is what she prefers.” The couple arrived in Malamulo, Malawi in May 2016.

“It was a challenge working in such a small busy hospital,” notes Claire. Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world and while there, the couple saw many patients with HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, typhoid, parasites, hypertension and diabetes. Heart problems were particularly common, and the country’s only cardiologist had left three months before their arrival. In response, Tim opened a heart clinic. “There was only a handful of internal medicine doctors in the country, and local physicians were not trained in using heart medications properly. I was able to teach them ultrasound and medications to manage many heart conditions. That was very rewarding.” Claire worked primarily providing women’s health services and pediatrics, and oversaw the renovation of the hospital’s neonatal ICU. As their five-year commitment was ending, it was time for the couple to decide on the next chapter in their life together.

“I remember when we were dating, Tim used to tell me how amazing Oregon was and I would just roll my eyes,” says Claire, who was raised in Redding, CA. “When I finally did come to visit, I had to agree with him. Having been so hands-on during their medical mission in Malawi, the couple knew that when they returned to the U.S., they wanted to do more than juggling consultations on cases. “That meant we should be in a more rural setting,” Tim notes. When Tim’s brother moved to the river and the Gobbles visited him, the couple agreed the Gorge would be a great place to live. “When I saw the opportunity at Mid-Columbia Medical Center, we felt it would be a good fit for us.” That was in February 2021 and the couple has since moved here to begin their new lives together. Tim is joining MCMC as a hospitalist, and Claire will be joining MCMC Family Medicine Clinic.

“We are excited to bring our unique experiences to the MCMC medical community,” Tim states. “We know from experience that when you are in a smaller community, you rely on each other. We are pleased to take ownership of our new roles and to be part of the MCMC team.” Claire adds, “We like to connect with our patients and see the value of long-standing relationships. Medical conditions are often driven by social or psychological aspects that need to be addressed, along with any underlying medical issues. We are enthusiastic about getting to know our patients and working with them to find solutions to their health problems.”