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Monday, Apr 15, 2024

Dr. Paula Masters selected to serve as Ballad Health’s chief health disparities officer

Paula Masters portraitIn following with Ballad Health’s significant commitment and investment in promoting community health, the organization has selected Dr. Paula Masters to serve as its first chief health disparities officer.

Years of clinical evidence demonstrate that different populations and communities, locally and nationally, experience health and healthcare differently, and there are wide variations of life expectancy between counties within Virginia and Tennessee tied to income, access, health behaviors and demographic characteristics.

In her new position, Masters will provide leadership and support in the development and implementation of a wide array of evidence-based health improvement programs and services aimed at reducing health disparities and inequities – both internally and externally to Ballad Health. This requires close collaboration with clinicians and other healthcare professionals, both employed by Ballad Health and operating independently in the community, as well as with community organizations throughout the Appalachian Highlands working to improve health and well-being.

Programs under her responsibility include faith community nurses; mobile health, including mobile COVID-19 vaccination initiatives; community health workers; the Ballad Health Niswonger Children’s Network Strong Starts maternal and child health initiative; the Appalachian Highlands Care Network for high-need uninsured individuals; PEERhelp addiction recovery; enterprise-wide social needs integration; the STRONG Accountable Care Community; and Ballad Health’s Centers for Early Learning. Masters will also help lead Ballad Health’s work to meet new standards for the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations to address health disparities by The Joint Commission.

“Dr. Masters brings a wealth of experience in public health and a proven commitment to addressing health disparities, making her the ideal candidate to lead our initiatives in this crucial area,” said Anthony Keck, Ballad Health’s chief population health officer and executive vice president for system innovation. “Tackling health disparities and inequities is essential for improving the overall health and vitality of our community. With her extensive background and expertise in social determinants of health, community mobilization, rural health disparity reduction and community and organizational engagement, we know Dr. Masters will continue to achieve great impact in this role.”

Before joining Ballad Health, Masters served as assistant dean of student services at East Tennessee State University’s College of Public Health. She rose through the ranks at ETSU, beginning her career there as director of LIFEPATH, the Tennessee Public Health Training Center, before being promoted to assistant dean for student services.

Masters holds a doctorate in community and behavioral health and a master’s degree in healthcare management and policy. She also spent several years working for local and regional health departments.

She currently serves as a board and committee member of the Tennessee Hospital Association Diversity and Equity Committee, Virginia Health Catalyst, the Tennessee Community Health Worker Association, the Tennessee American Cancer Society and the Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians. She is a former president of the Tennessee Public Health Association and a recipient of the association’s Doris Spain Award for Distinguished Service, along with the Governor’s Award for Distinguished Service.

Masters is a native of Hancock County, Tennessee, where she found her passion for rural health improvement and working to address disparities.