Family medicine residency clinic manager retiring

Photo by Sarah Kiewel

Photo by Sarah Kiewel

The building that housed UF’s family medicine residency clinic when it first opened in 1974 was torn down years ago. Sitting in her office where pictures of grandchildren are tacked on cabinets, Diane Hazen recalls the shock of leaving that squat, four-exam-room clinic in 1976 for the clinic’s current space on the corner of Southwest Fourth Avenue and Southwest Sixth Street.

“We were like, ‘Wow, look at all the space we have. We’ll never be able to use all this space,’” says Hazen, manager for Family Medicine at Fourth Avenue, UF’s family medicine residency clinic. “We have outgrown it. We do not have one inch of space, now.”

Hazen can recall every baby step of the clinic’s 34-year life because she has worked there since it opened, first as a clinical supervisor and then as clinic manager for the past 10 years. She has known every family medicine resident to train at UF and remembers when the clinic’s current medical director, Karen Hall, M.D., did her residency there. She has known some of the clinic’s patients since they were babies.

But her reign as clinic manager and de facto historian ends this month. After 34 years at the clinic, Hazen is retiring.

“I love this place,” she says, her hands clasped in her lap. “I love the people here. It makes me sad. It will be very hard to leave. Through the years we have all been through a lot. We do feel like we’re family. We have watched each other’s kids grow up. I think those are the things that set us apart as a clinic.”

Hazen, who moved to Gainesville with her family when she was 18, trained to become an X-ray and EKG technician after working as a secretary in a clinic. And it was while working as a technician that she met UF cardiologist Russell Green, M.D.

When Green was appointed director of the new family medicine residency clinic, he called Hazen and asked if she’d like to join him, she says. They started out with four residents, each year adding a few more. Now, there are 24 residents in the three-year program, she says.

“I am biased, but I do think family medicine residents are the best,” she says with a smile. “They are the most down-to-earth, caring people.”

Aside from the change in location and number of residents, the clinic has also added new services over the years, adding disciplines such as psychology and bringing in different specialists to work with residents. And there have been a few not-so-welcome changes, too. Fewer medical students are choosing family medicine, she suspects because of increasing demands such as the amount of time family medicine doctors now spend on paperwork instead of with patients.

Regardless, the clinic continues to meet high patient-care standards, receiving top honors from UF’s faculty group practice for patient satisfaction, a distinction that makes Hazen proud.

Although she is retiring and moving to Wakulla County, where she will be closer to her grandchildren, Hazen says she plans to visit the clinic often. She’s interested to find out how electronic medical records will work at the clinic. The transition to EMRs is scheduled to occur next year.

“I told them you won’t really be rid of me because my family lives here,” Hazen says. “I will come back a lot.”