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Staff photo by Troy Stolt / Dr. Paul Hendricks, health officer for the Hamilton County Health Department, speaks during a press conference about the coronavirus as Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger stands behind him in the Golley Auditorium on Thursday, March 12, 2020 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Dr. Paul Hendricks will retire from his role as Hamilton County health officer at the end of January — a little over a year since he took over the top medical position at the Hamilton County Health Department.

Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger confirmed Hendricks' departure, saying that Hendricks informed him "a couple weeks ago" that he would be permanently retiring.

"We appreciate all of his hard work during this time and certainly wish him the best as he starts his retirement life," Coppinger said. "He's a very knowable guy, very personable. I really enjoyed getting to actually know him and work some with him. He's made a decision that obviously he thinks is best for himself and his family, so I always have a lot of respect for people that put family first."

Hendricks joined the health department staff in October 2019 after a long career in hospital medicine, emergency medicine, family medicine and rural medicine.

READ MORE: A COVID-19 Q&A with Hamilton County's health officer

He came to Chattanooga in 1993 and practiced emergency medicine for 23 years at both Parkridge and CHI Memorial hospitals, according to an Oct. 16, 2019, news release from the health department. Before coming to the health department, Hendricks was a medical director at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.

According to the 2019 news release, Hendricks' role as health officer would be to "provide public health leadership to Health Department staff, medical providers and the entire community."

"Dr. Hendricks will have a pivotal role in public health emergency preparedness and response," the press release stated.

Hendricks succeeded Dr. Valerie Boaz, who retired in 2019 after 32 years in the position. Coppinger said that Boaz has since returned to the health department as a contract employee.

"Certainly she's very familiar with the job having done it for decades, and obviously there are some other positions over there that could serve as interim until we are able to hire somebody permanently," Coppinger said.

Hendricks declined to comment for this story.

Contact Elizabeth Fite at efite@timesfreepress.com or follow her on Twitter @ecfite.

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