Dr. Martha Buchanan to be honored

By Mike Steely

Senior Writer


Although she has resigned as director of the Knox County Health Department, Dr. Martha Buchanan will continue to serve as the county’s health officer until the end of the year. During the COVID-19 pandemic she and the Board of Health promoted vaccination and mandated safety measures such as mask wearing and bar curfews. These actions were opposed and eventually blocked by the Knox County Mayor and the Knox County Commission.

In an odd turn of events, Dr. Buchanan will be honored tonight by the same opponents that blocked her efforts.

The first item on the commission agenda is “a resolution of the Commission of Knox County, Tennessee, honoring Dr. Martha Buchanan for her leadership and service as Director of the Knox County Health Department.”

Mayor Glenn Jacobs, who said he was surprised by Buchanan’s resignation, assumed the powers of county health oversight, effectively moving Dr. Buchanan and the health department under his authority.

Dr. Buchanan joined KCHD in 2004 as the assistant public health officer, was promoted to public health officer in 2006, and took on the role of director in 2010. She graduated from Carson-Newman College and East Tennessee State University’s James H. Quillen College of Medicine. She began her practice in a family clinic in Jellico prior to her position with the Knox County Health Department.

Dr. Buchanan is board certified in family practice and is a member of the American Academy of Family Practice and the Tennessee Academy of Family Practice. Buchanan effectively, and successfully, wore two hats: as health department director and as health officer. Jacobs has announced that a search is ongoing for two professionals to fill each position.

Doctor Buchanan’s resignation letter maintained her professionalism and makes no mention of the difficulties she faced while leading Knox County against the pandemic for the past two years.

“It has been my honor to serve with the Health Department team in service of the Knox County community these past 17 years,” she said in a statement. “The excellence, expertise, and dedication they demonstrate every day is beyond comparison. I am incredibly proud of the work we have done together to improve health in Knox County. However, I believe it is time for me to move on to the next chapter of my life.”