Former Ky. state senator sworn in as Tn. health commissioner

Published 12:25 pm Thursday, January 19, 2023

Former Kentucky State Senator Ralph Alvarado has been sworn into office as the 15th Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Health by Gov. Bill Lee during a ceremony in Nashville.

Alvarado has been a practicing physician for the past 28 years, working in a variety of clinical settings, as a hospitalist, in primary care, and at skilled nursing facilities. He has served as medical director for the Medicare health plan operators Stableview Health and Signature Advantage, in Lexington, as medical director and finance chairman for Kentucky One Health Medical Group in Louisville, and as vice-chair for the boards of Quality Independent Physicians and Wealth MD, also in Louisville.  Alvarado was chief and medical staff president at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Lexington and was elected to the hospital’s board in 2010, serving until 2012.

In 2014, he became the first Hispanic member elected to the Kentucky General Assembly, where he represented Kentucky’s 28th Senate district.

While in the Senate, Alvarado was chairman of the Senate Health & Welfare Committee, led the Substance Abuse Recovery Task Force, and was a member of the Medicaid Oversight, Banking & Insurance, and State & Local Government committees.

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When his appointment was announced last November, Alvarado said, “The opportunity presented to me by Governor Lee is a chance to have an even more significant impact on public policy.  In making the difficult decision to accept this offer, my focus remains on faith, family, and public service. I’ve ultimately determined that taking the role of commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Health is the right thing for my family and me. Ultimately, it is an excellent opportunity to lead.”

A California native, Alvarado earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, Calif., in 1990, where he went on to receive his Doctorate in Medicine in 1994. Dr. Alvarado completed his medical residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Kentucky in 1998. Dr. Alvarado and his wife of 28 years, Dawn, have two adult children.

A special election to fill the 28th Senate District vacancy will be held on Tuesday, May 16, which is primary election day in Kentucky.