By Amye Anderson
UCBJ Managing Editor
PUTNAM COUNTY – Governor Bill Haslam recently appointed 217 Tennesseans to 93 state boards and commissions. Two of those appointees – Marilyn “Buffy” Key and Johnnie Wheeler – hail from the UC. Putnam County, to be more precise.
Key, of Baxter, and Wheeler, of Cookeville, have been appointed to the Board of Examiners for Nursing Home Administrators and the Tennessee Arts Commission, respectively.
Key has held the post of Vice President of Quality at Cookeville Regional Medical Center since 2011. Her professional experience centers mostly around hospitals and healthcare management – not nursing homes. She was surprised when she received a call from Gov. Haslam asking her to serve on the examiners board, representing hospital administration.
Despite having never worked directly for a nursing home, her experience within the field of healthcare management, and involvement with the hospital-side of healthcare, provided a unique perspective for the board.
“Which, I thought was really, really good because they’re kind of looking at the whole continuum of care, if you will, for people,” she said.
When the governor called her again this summer, asking if she would like to serve a second time, she couldn’t say no.
“It’s been a great experience for me,” Key said. “It’s helped me look into a continuum of care philosophy that I’ve never had before. It’s been an honor and a privilege. I’m very impressed with what this board does. I think it’s a very good thing for our nursing home patients.”
Created in 1970, the board works to uphold its mission to “safeguard the health, safety, and welfare of Tennesseans” and “interpret the laws, rules, and regulations to determine the appropriate standards of practice in an effort to ensure the highest degree of professional conduct.” The board is also responsible for issuance of licenses and investigations of alleged violations.
Also representing Putnam County and the UC, Wheeler was tapped by the governor to serve on the Tennessee Arts Commission for the next five years.
She recently retired after working with the Upper Cumberland Human Resources Agency (UCHRA) for the past 37 years. Over the years, she has been involved with numerous local and regional boards and commissions. She’s also been voted Outstanding Citizen, Business Woman of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year, and received the Alice Littleton Award.
Wheeler says being involved in the arts community is a new experience for her but it’s something she’s excited to be a part of.
“I’ve always been involved with the community and helping in any way I could,” Wheeler said. “This is just another opportunity (to do that).”
The Tennessee Arts Commission was created in 1967 with the goal to stimulate and encourage the presentation of visual, literary, music and performing arts as well as encourage public interest in the cultural heritage of Tennessee.
Wheeler says, through her involvement with the commission, she hopes to fulfill the group’s mission.
“Art touches so many lives,” she said. “It’s an honor and I appreciate the opportunity. I’m excited about it. I just think it’s wonderful. It is something that’s a new experience for me and it’s something that’s needed. Any time I can do anything to increase the quality of life for the community, or in Tennessee as a whole, I’m always excited about. I do thank the governor for this opportunity to serve.”