Metro Public Health Department names Dr. Gill Wright, Tina Lester as interim leaders

Director Dr. Michael Caldwell resigned Thursday
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Posted at 2:30 PM, Dec 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-11 23:18:54-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Metropolitan Board of Health voted on two people to lead the Metro Public Health Department during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Gill Wright will serve as the Metro Public Health Department’s Interim Chief Medical Director. Dr. Wright will handle the city's COVID-19 response.

Tina Lester will serve as Interim Administrative Director. She will be in charge of more administrative duties.

Dr. Wright and Lester accepted the board’s request and will begin in their new roles immediately. Lester agreed to serve one year, while Dr. Wright will serve until the board wants to make a change. Board members indicated they would hold off on a search for a permanent director until the COVID-19 pandemic was over.

The unanimous vote came during the Board of Health's retreat. Board members gathered at the Music City Center for the discussion.

The board’s decision comes after Dr. Michael Caldwell resigned as the director of health at Thursday night’s board meeting amid allegations of gender discrimination.

“I am grateful that Mrs. Lester and Dr. Wright have agreed to lead the department on an interim basis” said Dr. Alex Jahangir, board chair. “Both have the confidence of the staff and the board to move the department forward in an incredibly challenging time for public health.”

Dr. Wright leads the health department’s pandemic response, and is the civil service medical examiner of Metro’s Occupational Health Clinic.

Lester is currently the director of the health department’s Population Health Bureau, which includes: The Behavioral Health & Wellness program; the Community Development & Planning program; the Project Access program; the Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health program; and the Ryan White program. She is a registered nurse that began her career at MPHD in 1995.

The six-member board of health governs the Metro Public Health Department. Board members are appointed by the mayor and approved by the Metro Council.