September 28, 2001

Temple adds sound clinical knowledge

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Dr. Patricia Temple talks with Dr. Tanya Kowalczyk, a pediatric resident, before seeing patients in the pediatric continuity clinic. (photo by Dana Johnson)

Temple adds sound clinical knowledge

Pat Temple’s quick smile and easygoing demeanor may be results of her simple, uncluttered childhood, spent on a family ranch in central Oregon, or perhaps they’re a result of her career as a pediatrician, a specialty where you must immediately put your patients at ease. But whatever the source, people who meet her for the first time, as well as those who know her well, mention her kindness.

But there’s so much more to Temple, wife of Dr. Steven G. Gabbe, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine’s new dean. She’s a woman who fits comfortably into her role as “first lady” of the medical school, but stands proudly on her own as a pediatrician with years of experience in managed care administration.

“I tease her about this, but she has two degrees more than me,” Gabbe said about his wife. In addition to her medical degree from Oregon Health Sciences University, she also holds a Master of Science in Anatomy, Electron Histochemistry from Oregon and a Master of Public Health from Harvard.

“We are extremely lucky to have Pat on our faculty,” said Dr. Harry R. Jacobson, vice chancellor for Health Affairs. “She has extensive knowledge of managed care issues and is a great addition to our staff with her skills in community advocacy, an area that is becoming increasingly important to us. Pat is a wonderful person and a great partner to our new dean.”

Temple grew up on a family ranch in an isolated part of central Oregon, a ranch that was the homestead of her great grandfather who came to the United States from Genoa, Italy in 1870. She grew up with horses and cattle, baling and raking hay and cooking. She lived a simple life. Until she was a senior in high school, her classes had eight to 12 students each. There was no television at the family ranch.

“When I had my first child, I got a TV,” Temple said. “I wanted him to watch Sesame Street.”

It was during high school that she began to think about medicine as a career. “I wanted to do something where I contributed and felt positive about what I was doing,” she said. “I loved science, particularly biology, and thought, ‘if I could stretch things, I could be a physician.’”

She received her undergraduate degree from Mills College in 1964, then enrolled in medical school at Oregon Health Sciences University. During her first week of medical school, she met her first husband, Gary Temple. By spring break they were married. In 1968, while Gabbe was training at Oregon, he and his first wife, Jessica, became friends of the Temples.

Both Temple and Gabbe and their spouses ended up in Boston the next year for their internships. Temple served both her internship and residency in pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine and Boston City Hospital. Temple and Jessica Gabbe both had their first children, Adam (Temple’s) and Amanda (Gabbe’s) in 1970 at the same hospital in Boston. Of Temple’s first 36 months of training in Boston, she was pregnant for 18 months, also delivering her second child, Erica. During the four years in Boston, the Gabbes also had their second child, Daniel.

Temple joined the faculty of the University of California, San Francisco in 1975. In 1980, after 12 years of marriage each, both couples divorced. In 1981, Gabbe married Temple. He had been raising Daniel, who was five, and seven-year-old Amanda, who has a significant learning disability.

The family lived in Philadelphia until 1987, where Temple worked as a pediatrician in a private practice and served as medical director of the HealthPASS program, an experimental prepaid HMO for 100,000 Medicaid recipients in Philadelphia. They moved to Columbus where Gabbe became professor and chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at The Ohio State University College of Medicine and Temple was associate clinical professor in Pediatrics. She was also an adjunct associate clinical professor in the division of Health Services Management and Policy and served as medical director and executive director for the OSU Managed Health CareSystems Inc., a not-for-profit corporation that administered managed care plans for Ohio State.

At Ohio State, Temple received the President’s Citation for “extraordinary efforts in the advancement of Ohio State University” from Vanderbilt Chancellor Gordon Gee, who was president of Ohio State at the time.

“Pat is a wonderful academic and a fabulous person,” Gee said. “The medical school and medical center will benefit enormously from both of their contributions. In this instance, we have a wonderful twofer.”

The couple left Ohio State for Seattle in 1996. As Gabbe chaired the ob/gyn department at the University of Washington, Temple was also on the faculty at UW, as an associate clinical professor of Pediatrics. She served as interim medical director responsible for the university’s capitated enrolled population. She also worked with low-income immigrant and refugee patients at Harborview Medical Center, a University of Washington teaching hospital, where she was responsible for setting up Best Beginnings, an intensive nurse home visiting program for young teenage parents. She was also instrumental in improving the coordination of care of asthmatic children, including developing a nurse home visiting program for children following hospitalization for complications of asthma. That program has resulted in decreased emergency room visits and hospitalizations at Harborview.

“Kindness and thoughtfulness are two immediate attributes that come to mind when I think of Pat, plus a lot of compassion for other human beings and their life circumstances,” said Dr. Elinor A. Graham, a Seattle pediatrician who worked with Temple at Harborview Medical Center. “These attributes were very obvious by the way she related to our low-income immigrant and refugee patients at our clinic here at Harborview. She also has a passion and drive to improve the care to low-income children and their families.”

Dr. Carlos Pellegrini, chairman of Surgery at UW, is a friend of both Gabbe and Temple and had the opportunity to work closely with both of them in Seattle.

“Pat is a dedicated pediatrician and a sweet individual,” he said. “In leading the managed care area, which was business, her concern always showed to make sure that, despite the economics, we kept focused on our mission, in particular, helping those who are disadvantaged.”

At Vanderbilt, Temple is carrying on her work. She is an attending physician at the Pediatric Continuity of Care Clinic and is principal investigator on “Residents as Case Managers,” an Asthma Quality Improvement project. She also works with Dr. Arnold W. Strauss, James C. Overall Professor and Chair of Pediatrics, and director of Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, on managed care contracting and community advocacy. Most recently, she was the physician who reviewed the protocol for the “Nurses for Newborns” initiative, a program that offers full-time nurses with NICU experience to help parents learn how to take care of their child at home after he or she has been released from intensive care. The program is being funded by a $800,000 gift from Tennessee Titans offensive tackle Fred Miller and his wife, Kim.

“I’ve had the opportunity to work with Pat on a couple of committees,” said Dr. Deborah C. German, senior associate dean of Medical Education. “She’s absolutely fabulous. If Dean Gabbe hadn’t come, we would have been lucky to have just gotten her.”

Although neither Gabbe nor Temple has much spare time, they try to allow time for simply being together. Their offices are very close, so they see each other often during the day.

“We are very different, especially in the ways we grew up, but we have the same values,” Gabbe said. He was raised Jewish and Temple had a “variety of religious experiences,” she said.

“She’s honest,” he said. “She’s my best critic, and she’s my sounding board when I am searching for the right answer. I love her very much.”

Gabbe and Temple are very close to their children and try to visit them often at their homes. “The kids have known each other all of their lives, really,” Temple said.

Adam, 31, raises alfalfa and lives on Temple’s family ranch with his wife, Jacki, and Gabbe and Temple’s only grandchild, Alexander. Adam is a former volunteer in Niger in the Peace Corps. Erica, 29, is a prosecuting attorney in the Seattle area. Amanda, 29, lives in Columbus, Ohio, and works for Kroger. “She has excellent social skills,” Gabbe said. “She grew up in a home with high achieving parents and siblings. She’s done very well.” Daniel, 27, is a recent graduate of Princeton and the American Film Institute, funded by the “Gabbe Foundation,” Gabbe says, laughing. He has edited a full-length film and has served as assistant editor on “Instrument,” a documentary film about the rock band Fugazi. A recent film, “Lovely and Amazing,” was presented at the Telluride Film Festival and he is currently working on a documentary about backyard wrestling.

Temple said that although she and Gabbe are very different in their likes and dislikes, they have found common interests.

“He loves rock’ n’ roll, and I grew up listening to country music,” she said. “I love to cook. He doesn’t. Steve jogs. I don’t. I’ve taken flying lessons. He hates flying. I like to sail. He doesn’t. But we do love to go horseback riding together and love watching movies and the visual arts.”