With humble beginnings, Dr. Mary Chatman’s life is proof that anything is possible when God directs your steps. Growing up in a small rural town in eastern North Carolina, where the closest hospital was an hour away, one might have doubts that his or her dreams are attainable.

With over 32 years of experience, Chatman proves that dreams are possible and do come true. Chatman is the Executive Vice President at Wellstar Health System and is the President of WellStar Kennestone and Windy Hill Hospitals.

As the Executive Vice President, Dr. Chatman oversees a team of over 10,000. She is also the interim executive overseeing three additional hospitals, Wellstar’s Paulding, Cobb, and North Fulton.

Chatman’s leadership, career experience, and drive have propelled her into an executive leadership role where she leads decisions and used her voice to be a champion, and an advocate for the people she works with.

She is responsible for collaboratively developing the vision and leadership for five hospitals, five health parks within Georgia’s most integrated healthcare system while opening and managing the southeast’s largest emergency department in 2020.

Chatman started her healthcare career as a nursing assistant in North Carolina and says that even at this point in her career, she’s not done yet.

“Vice President Kamala Harris has broken the glass ceiling. She is an example for all women of all races,” Chatman said. “My ambition is to continue to grow and to grow the people who are on my team.”

She practiced bedside nursing for four years before being encouraged to transition to management.

In her 20 years at Vidant, she had ten promotions, allowing her to work, oversee, or manage every department in the hospital except Finance and Information Systems and manage ambulatory and for-profit business lines. Her last role at this system was Chief Nursing Officer before she transitioned in 2009 to Savannah.

“My story is not quite predictable. I thought I’d have a career in science and math. God does guide our steps and he guided my steps early on in my career. I knew it was for me (speaking of healthcare). Caring for people is my calling,” Chatman said.

She earned three nursing degrees: undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate. Before joining Wellstar, Mary served as chief operating officer and chief nursing officer at Memorial University Health System in Savannah, Georgia, for eight years.

During this time, she was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the 654-bed hospital and nursing operations.

Also, she served as Interim Chief Information Officer for Memorial and led the $85M electronic health record conversion from McKesson to EPIC.

“Every position has its own story behind the experience. Sometimes things happen for a reason,” Chatman said.

“When I assumed my first role outside of bedside nursing, I took a pay cut to change my career path. While risky and in unknown territory, I did the homework, I did the research, and built relationships in the community. Sometimes this is the scariest thing for women in leadership.”

Chatman attests that her success in leadership stems from the strength her mother displayed while she was growing up and to Civil Rights advocate Rosa Parks.

“My mother fought against odds that were against her. Like Rosa Parks, I take my seat and demonstrate I belong there through my work. I have learned we have to be comfortable in our own skin. And, always bring our best self,” Chatman said.

Dr. Chatman has served on many local, state, and national boards and has been recognized multiple times for her work and leadership in healthcare and in the community.

“I tell women leaders to be assertive, stay humble, but keep the fire in your belly,” Chatman said. “I have found peace in my career. People count on me to lead. I know the work that has to be done.”
For more information about Wellstar Health Systems, visit www.wellstar.org.

(Photo: Courtesy of Wellstar Healthcare System)

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