Meet the doctor nominated to lead the Shelby County Health Department

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The new nominee to head the Shelby County Health Department is gearing up to go before the Shelby County Commission next week.

“I consider Memphis home,” said Dr. Michelle Taylor, Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris’s has nominee to head the Shelby County Health Department.

She is no stranger to Memphis. Taylor graduated from White Station High School and has lived in the city off and on.

“So I know community very well. It’s helped me grow up in more ways than one. And I love this. I really do,” Taylor said.

So when she heard that the Shelby County Health Department was in search of a new leader, she had to apply.

“But I looked at that job and when Dr. Haushalter stepped down, there was no way I couldn’t apply,” said Taylor.

Not that she wasn’t busy, having just been promoted to division chief of Aerospace Medicine in Maryland. The Howard University Graduate went to Medical School at Harvard, taught elementary school and even served in the Air National Guard.

But Taylor’s heart was in Shelby County, and she was ready to come home and use her skills to help people right here.

“After coming on this global pandemic and seeing where people are in the community and how they’re feeling. It’s important to have somebody who can stay focused on what needs to be done,” Taylor said.

She even worked at the health department years ago and learned the different departments.

“I believe it puts me in a unique position to walk in and hit the ground running day one,” said Taylor.

She wants the health department to get back to its core mission to prevent, promote and protect.

“I believe it’s important to be honest with the community,” Taylor said, “and being honest means telling them what the data is showing them, what the facts are through the data, and then discussing risks and benefits, and then allowing people to make decisions that they feel are best for their family given those risks and benefits. They’ll never be able to say, and I say this to my children all the time, they’ll never be able to say, we didn’t tell them. That’s my goal.”

The Shelby County Commission still has to vote on Taylor’s nomination. If she is approved, she will start work August 2.

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