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  • Writer's pictureMohammed Fuad

Butch Gazzara retires from AtlantiCare SED

Courtesy Photo Butch Gazzara (center) retired from AtlantiCare Satellite Emergency Department after 46 years of nursing.

In a small town like Hammonton, everyone is connected with each other based on their surnames alone. Nicknames are common as everyone is named after their relatives. For Francis Gazzara, his nickname “Butch” isn’t any different. The question is how did the nickname come about? His grandmother.

“I was told that when I came home from the hospital, she rubbed my chest and she said ‘Butchy boy’ and that was the end of that one. That’s how it all started,” Gazzara laughed.

Lifelong Hammonton resident Butch Gazzara’s goal was to be a nurse and that journey began after he graduated from Atlantic Cape Community College in 1976. His first job was at William B. Kessler Memorial Hospital, which he worked at for about three years before working in the casino industry for a year. From there, he realized that he wanted to get back into nursing and worked at Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Stratford, N.J. for about 15 or 16 years before going back to Kessler, where he continued to work until it closed its doors in 2009.

He was offered a position to work at the Satellite Emergency Department (SED) AtlantiCare opened in the Kessler facility moments after Kessler closed. He and the SED team moved to the AtlantiCare Health Park at Hammonton Campus, at 219 White Horse Pike in July of 2011. The more than 39,000 square foot facility AtlantiCare built there included the William Zwiebel, DO Satellite Emergency Department. Gazzara served as clinical manager for the SED almost 13 years.

Before becoming a clinical manager, his goal in nursing was practicing in the anesthesia field but his career goals changed once he became a clinical manager, a position he held at all three hospitals that he worked for.

“It’s been extremely gratifying; I’ve met so many people. All of them offered me assistance and opportunities to grow, to learn their culture, to learn their process, and it’s been different at every hospital,” Gazzara said.

Working in healthcare for so long, Gazzara knows that healthcare providers care for patients who are often dealing with high anxiety because they’ve had to go to the emergency department for different situations that led them there. He said people might not be happy with what led to their situation and he’d feel the same way if he ever landed in the emergency department. Over the years, those experiences were teaching and learning moments for him and his colleagues about caring for patients experiencing numerous emotions in addition to their injuries or illnesses.

“You learn through the years that everybody has their thresholds of what’s dangerous and what’s not dangerous and what causes anxiety. Then their problem becomes our concern and we focus on caring for them and making them comfortable,” Gazzara said.

Kessler closed its doors, Gazzara accepted the position to work in AtlantiCare. He joked that it seemed like a good idea to take the job because he had just lost one and was a very positive experience. He noted how committed AtlantiCare has been to enhancing access to care for the Hammonton community. He said he was especially thankful for how the Hammonton community embraced the SED team and the broader AtlantiCare team, including sending grateful letters of appreciation.

Now after 46 years dedicating his life to healthcare and taking care of people and his colleagues, he recently retired, which he calls bittersweet.

“It’s difficult to leave something you’ve done for 46 years, that’s how long I’ve been a nurse and I’ve been in management a majority of the time. You build relationships and you make friends,” Gazzara said.

“I’ve had people in the community come up to me and say ‘what’s going to happen now that you’re gone?’ and I said ‘My AtlantiCare colleagues will continue to care for the Hammonton community,’” Gazzara said.

Gazzara has learned that a lot of people in the community feel confident when they know members of their community are caring for them, going as far as saying that there’s a certain level of comfort when being familiar with someone there saying that they’ll “take care of business.”

Now retired, what he hopes to see is that every colleague that he’s had, has learned from him about the importance of understanding the unique needs of all patients as individuals. He’s also proud of what he’s taught, his best accomplishment is sharing what he’s learned over the years and having that continue to have an impact for a long time.

“Sadly, people will continue to get sick and have needs and that’s part of what everyone else does. They share what they’ve learned and keep that coming for the generations,” Gazzara said.

Chief operating officer Larisa Goganzer, MSN, RN, said, “Butch has spent his career caring for the Hammonton community.

“We are grateful for the clinical leadership he has provided our Satellite Emergency Department Team and for the tremendous difference he has made for our patients and their families. Butch has focused on making sure patients had the highest quality clinical care. He has done so with a passion for providing exceptional customer service. The patient-centered care he has led and the trusting bonds he has developed with our patients, staff and providers will continue to have a positive impact on the health and wellness of the Hammonton community,” Goganzer said.

As for what his plans for what retirement will look like, he’s been making some wine and he’s been washing a lot of dishes and changing diapers of his grandchildren, an experience that brought back memories of his own children.

“When my kids were little, I worked a lot. I see my kids and my grandchildren more because now I have time. Time’s been precious, more precious than money. I’m enjoying my grandchildren and my family,” Gazzara said.

Gazzara knows the time is right as his family needs him and he needs them and he’s looking forward to spending some quality family time.

“I’ve had so many congratulations from so many people and it’s like ‘I’m leaving and you’re congratulating me, how come?’” he joked.

“It’s been wonderful, thank you,” Gazzara concluded.


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