August 08, 2023
The Cookeville Regional Medical Center Board of Trustees has officially named Buffy Key the next Chief Executive Officer at August’s CRMC Board of Trustees meeting.
“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.”
“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 of healthcare and hospital experience. She started her healthcare career 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. Beginning with her work in the military, she has had a wide range of healthcare experiences. As a medical technologist, she previously worked in the laboratory at Johnson City Medical Center, CRMC and Vanderbilt. She also worked with the Bayer Corporation as a field service engineer in the diagnostics division and then returned to CRMC as the lab manager and director. Buffy left CRMC to return to Vanderbilt as the administrative director of operations-clinical laboratories where she was responsible for 27 departments.
Ms. Key relocated to her hometown of Cookeville to lead at CRMC as the senior vice president for quality and operations. 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 Chief Operating Officer for the medical center.
In March 2023, Key became the interim CEO and was appointed by Governor Bill Lee to serve on the State of Tennessee Lab Board.