Tomberlin leaving ARH after 45 years

Published 2:19 am Saturday, October 9, 2010

When Charles Tomberlin started his radiology practice more than 50 years ago, he expected to practice medicine for 20 to 30 years.

Dr. Charles Tomberlin with Dr. Mike Wells (above) and Dr. Gil Holland (below) was honored with a reception yesterday. Tomberlin is leaving the hospital after 45 years.

“After you get in it, you don’t look forward to retirement,” Tomberlin said yesterday at a reception honoring him for 45 years at Andalusia Regional Hospital.

Years ago, Dr. Tomberlin served a number of hospitals.

“When I was in high school, he had this long, red Cadillac full of X-rays,” James Kizer recalled at the reception. “He had a driver, and you’d see Dr. Tomberlin everywhere, reading X-rays.”

There’ve been lots of changes since then, Tomberlin said.

“The CAT scan was probably the biggest thing,” he said. “And now MRIs.”

As he greeted well-wishers, he assured many of them he’s not really retiring.

“Dr. (Hejal) Patel called me last week and told me to sign up for anything long-term,” Tomberlin beamed. “They’ll have the cancer center open soon and they may need some help.”

Dr. Patel is a radiology oncologist with 21st Century Oncology, which has partnered with ARH to build a cancer treatment center on the local hospital’s campus.

Despite his reluctance over the “R” word, he had plenty of offers for retirement plans from well-wishers.

“I’ve had five years of practice at this doing nothing,” fellow Rotarian Benny Barrow advised. “If you get in trouble, let me know.”

Bobbi Ray has worked with Dr. Tomberlin for 25 years, ever since she answered a newspaper ad for an office job.

“He’s great to work for,” the office manager said. “He’s really a good person.”

Well known as the founder of the Andalusia Rotary Club’s Domino Tournament, Tomberlin is devoted to a number of causes, she said.

“His passion is dominoes,” Ray said. “He has a soft heart for children, and it pleases him that proceeds from the domino tournament go to Camp ASCAA. He’s just a real giving and loving person.”

He’s also devoted to his alma mater, Huntingdon College, she said.

Ray should know: She works as much for his causes as for his medical practice.

“He’s been a fixture around here for a lot of years,” she said. “People are really going to miss him.”

But she’s not really buying the retirement plan, either.

“The office will stay open for a few months,” she said.

“We’ve still got insurance claims and paperwork to do.”