Nashville's Public Health Chief Calls Departure For Hospital Post Bad Timing But Perfect Opportunity | Nashville Public Radio

Nashville's Public Health Chief Calls Departure For Hospital Post Bad Timing But Perfect Opportunity

Aug 25, 2019

Nashville’s top public health official is leaving her post after just eight months on the job. Dr. Wendy Long will take over as CEO of the Tennessee Hospital Association in mid-October.

Long says it was bad timing when the hospital association came looking to replace its retiring CEO, Craig Becker. She had just replaced Bill Paul after the Metro Board of Health decided it was time for leadership change. But the more she mulled it over, she says she felt like she couldn’t pass up a job she calls “tailor-made” for her skillset.

"There’s just so many aspects of what they’re involved with that I think are really consistent with the kinds of issues that I’ve been interested in throughout my career," she tells WPLN.

Long spent most of her career leading Tennessee’s Medicaid program, TennCare, as its top doctor and then director.

The 14-year TennCare veteran says one initial priority will be protecting hospitals as the state's Medicaid program negotiates a new funding arrangement with the federal government known as a block grant. She says she also expects to spend a lot of time helping shape laws around telemedicine and recruiting doctors to rural areas.

The Metro Board of Health released a statement, thanking Long for her leadership. But the agency has not laid out a timeline for finding a new director.

"It was an agency that had a single director for 11 years, so it's not like it had constant turnover or anything. Certainly when I took the job, I didn't envision that I would be leaving this soon," Long says. "I have really enjoyed working at Metro, and I'm confident they're going to be able to find a next new leader."