Hospital CEO rose through the ranks

By Jane Clark Summers

Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

CORINTH - From an early age, Diane Boatman knew she wanted a career in the health field.

"That is all I ever thought I wanted to do," Boatman said. "I used to cut up my dolls and sew them back up."

But her first job was at W.T. Gooch Merchandise, a business started by her grandfather in 1906 in Acton, Tenn. "They let me pump gas when I was eight," said Boatman.

From those early, humble beginnings, she has risen to become head of a hospital with 865 employees and an annual operating budget of $71.5 million and capital budget of $71 million.

She has been in the health care field for 30 years and in management for 12 of those years. She is in her 13th month as interim CEO of Magnolia Regional Health Center in Corinth.

After graduating from Corinth High School in 1966, Boatman received an associate of science degree in nursing from Northeast Mississippi Community College, a bachelor of science degree in nursing from the University of North Alabama and a master of maternal/child degree nursing at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. She holds active licenses as a registered nurse in Mississippi and Tennessee and as a certified childbirth educator.

Boatman was a nursing instructor for 11 years at NEMCC from 1979-1990, but the rest of her career has been at the Corinth hospital where she served as chief nursing officer from 1990-1993. In 1993, she was promoted to vice president of clinical services and last year was appointed interim CEO, which has been traditionally an all-male field.

"Some of the nursing and the clinical background has been immensely helpful to me in what I hope has been effectively working through many situations and managing patient concerns," Boatman said.

"My special interest is in working closely with the industrial population here, strengthening our Alliance Medical Affairs Committee," she said. "That helps me know what this community wants and what their health care needs are."

Internally, she is striving to strengthen the work force through re-evaluating the benefit package, increasing opportunities for education both in-house and out, and upgrading equipment. About 43 percent of the capital budget for 2002 will go toward upgrading diagnostic equipment, she said.

The single mother of two grown daughters works long hours - usually 10 hours a day and 50-60 hours a week.

"It is not the kind of job for women with small children," Boatman said. "I don't have any other responsibilities other than my mama. My mom lives with me."

She is the daughter of Martha Dicus and the late Leland Malone Dicus.

If she were to give advice to other women, she would say," Don't sell yourself short. Be yourself, be prepared and keep your eye focused on goals." She advocates "frequently re-evaluating your motivations for objectiveness and appropriateness."

Her style of management is based on staying objective and staying impartial.

When she has time for hobbies, Boatman enjoys walking, biking and visiting her daughters, who are also in health-related fields. Kathleen Diane Boatman, 25, is a social worker at Methodist Healthcare Systems in Memphis. Amy Boatman Davis, 29 of Columbus, S.C., is a resident in emergency medicine.

The busy executive's civic involvement includes membership on the Alliance Board of Directors, United Way Board and North Mississippi Trauma Systems Advisory Committee.

Professional affiliations include the American College of Healthcare Executives, Mississippi Hospital Association and Sigma Theta Tau Scholastic Honorary Society.

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