Va. doctor named to head state Health Commission

Va. doctor named to head state Health Commission

September 2nd, 2011 by Staff Report in Local - Breaking News

NASHVILLE - Gov. Bill Haslam today named a replacement for Health Commissioner Susan Cooper, whom the administration says has "decided to pursue other opportunities."

Dr. John Dreyzehner will become commissioner on Sept. 21.

"I know we have a lot of work to do in tackling the significant health challenges Tennesseans face, and I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting to work," Dreyzehner said in a news release from the Haslam administration.

Cooper, who was originally appointed by Haslam's predecessor, Phil Bredesen, was "fulfilling her commitment to assist with the [gubernatorial] transition and the first legislative session," according to the release.

Calling Cooper a "passionate advocate for a healthier Tennessee," Haslam said "we will continue to focus on initiatives that encourage our citizens to make positive choices to exercise and eat well."

The 48-year-old Dreyzehner has served as director of the Cumberland Plateau Health District in Southwest Virginia over the past nine years. During that time, he also spent two years serving as acting director of the Lenowisco Health District in the same region.

He began his medical career as a U.S. Air Force flight surgeon and later practiced occupational medicine as director of the Blue Ridge Occupational Health Clinic in Lebanon, Va.

Haslam said Dreyzehner "brings a wealth of experience to the position from his service in the Air Force to his work as a public health official in Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee."