Key’s career has spanned more than 32 years in health care

Cookeville – Cookeville Regional Medical Center board of trustees officially named Buffy Key the next CEO after a unanimous vote Thursday evening in Cookeville. 

“I want to express my heartfelt gratitude for Buffy and her unwavering commitment to step into this leadership role to ensure that the services we provide at the medical center continue to be exceptional,” said CRMC Board Chairman Dr. Ernie Buchanan. “She continues to show her commitment to our hospital’s mission of providing exceptional care to the patients in the Upper Cumberland, and she has done an exceptional job serving as interim, and we look forward to the future of our medical center under her leadership.” 

In March 2023, Key became the interim CEO after two years as chief operating officer and was appointed by Governor Bill Lee to serve on the State of Tennessee Lab Board.

“What an honor it has been to serve as interim CEO at my hometown medical center for the past four months; I am excited to be named the newest CEO of Cookeville Regional Medical Center and continue taking on the challenges and opportunities in the future. I want to thank the board and the medical staff for their decision. This is our region’s community hospital and they deserve exceptional, high-quality care close to home. We will continue to grow and build back from the pandemic into the community hospital our region has come to know and love,” said Key.

Key’s career has spanned more than 32 years in health care and hospital experience which started with a stint as a medical laboratory scientist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center while serving in the Army National Guard.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in medical technology from East Tennessee State University and a Master of Management in health care from Vanderbilt University.

As a medical technologist, she has worked in the laboratory at Johnson City Medical Center, CRMC and Vanderbilt and worked with the Bayer Corporation as a field service engineer in the diagnostics division before returning to CRMC as lab manager and director before leaving CRMC to return to Vanderbilt as the administrative director of operations-clinical laboratories where she was responsible for 27 departments.

But it wasn’t long before she returned home to Cookeville to lead CRMC as the senior vice president for quality and operations where 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.

Photo courtesy of CRMC.

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