Key’s career has spanned over 32 years

Cookeville – Buffy Key, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Cookeville Regional Medical Center (CRMC), has been appointed to the Tennessee Hospital Association’s (THA) Board of Directors.

“The health care landscape continues to evolve for hospitals nationwide and in Tennessee. This is especially true for community-owned hospitals like Cookeville Regional. I am honored to serve on the THA Board of Directors alongside other health care professionals in Tennessee as we come together to support and advocate for hospitals across the state,” said Key.

Key’s career has spanned over 32 years of health care and hospital experience. She was named the CEO of CRMC in Sept. 2023 and was appointed by Governor Bill Lee to serve on the State of Tennessee Lab Board in March 2023.

Key has seen health care evolve from the ground up as she started her health care career as a medical laboratory scientist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center while serving in the Army National Guard. She worked in the laboratory at Johnson City Medical Center, CRMC and Vanderbilt and later went on to work with the Bayer Corporation as a field service engineer in the diagnostics division.

She returned to Tennessee to serve as the lab manager and director at Cookeville Regional and then had the opportunity to return to Vanderbilt as the administrative director of operations-clinical laboratories, where she was responsible for 27 departments.

In 2011, Key relocated to her hometown of Cookeville to lead as the senior vice president for quality and operations at CRMC. Key was quickly recognized as a leader in that role as she received the Tennessee Hospital Association’s 2016 Patient Safety Leadership Award, recognizing her dedication and extraordinary efforts to prioritize patient safety and quality at Cookeville Regional Medical Center.

In 2021, Key was promoted to CEO for the medical center.

“I am passionate about health care, and I can’t imagine working in any other industry. I look forward to the work ahead for this year’s THA Board of Directors,” said Key.

The mission of the Tennessee Hospital Association is to lead its members in advocacy for and support of community-based hospitals and health systems and assist them in delivering accessible, cost-effective, quality health services.

A complete list of THA board members is available at

Photo courtesy of CRMC.

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