Working to change public perception: The goal of the new Senior Director of KCHD

Kevin Parton assumed the role of Senior Director in May.
The Knox County Health Department is under a new direction, and his goal is to change public perception.
Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 8:32 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - In May, Kevin Parton was named Senior Director of the Knox County Health Department after the retirement of Dr. Martha Buchanan.

Parton worked for the KCHD previously as the Chief Administrative Officer and Executive Director of Finance.

In his new role, Parton is leading the entire Health Department - a task he said is made possible by the work of others around him.

“I have a great group of leadership with me, and we continue to work on that; they teach me a lot every day,” said Parton.

Working to change the public perception is Parton’s goal as he works through his time leading the department.

“Nobody really understood what public health did, and still today, they only believe we worked for COVID-19 response, and that’s not accurate at all,” said Parton.

A big job of the department was tackling COVID-19, but Parton feels it’s become too much of what people think of when they hear public health, and now he is working to change it.

“From restaurant inspection to the WIC program, which is booming right now with more than 9 thousand participants,” said Parton. “Try to see how much we actually do to do the good work we do in the community to make sure that people are healthy.”

The Health Department continues to work to fill the role of Health Officer, but the pandemic is making it difficult to find the right fit.

While a heavy load ahead, Parton believes the department is on the right path.