NGHS welcomes new leaders

Published: Friday, December 16, 2022

As Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) continues to grow to meet the needs of the region’s growing population, experienced leaders are taking the reins to guide a few key areas.

“It’s an exciting time across our thriving communities,” said Carol Burrell, president and CEO of NGHS. “We’re impacting the health of our community every day, and we’re thrilled to have some new faces around to help us continue bringing our best each day.”

After a national search, NGHS welcomed Diane Poirot as its new chief human resources officer in August. Poirot most recently served in the same role at Yuma Regional Medical Center in Arizona. Prior to that, she served in human resources leadership with several health systems including CHI St. Luke’s Health and Harris Health System, both in Houston, Texas. Poirot also has human resources experience in industries outside of health care, such as Travis County Government in Austin, Texas, The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and USDatalink in Baytown, Texas.

Meanwhile, Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) in Gainesville welcomed a new president for NGHS’ flagship hospital earlier this month. John Kueven most recently served as a senior vice president with Atlanta-based Wellstar Health System, where he oversaw its Cobb and Paulding hospitals. Prior to that, he served as the chief operating officer of Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital, just outside of Houston, Texas. In his role as president of NGMC Gainesville, Kueven will oversee the hospital’s operations, its New Horizons long-term care centers and mental and behavioral health services provided through Laurelwood.

Lastly, NGHS’ chief strategy executive, Tracy Vardeman, is retiring after 31 years with the system. Her last day will be Dec. 31. Prior to joining NGHS, Vardeman served for five years as the director of marketing and communications at Lanier Park Hospital in Gainesville, Georgia. Over the last three decades, Vardeman molded the shape and trajectory of NGHS through her work, first as the director of planning and then as chief strategy executive.

“Very few people have had an impact on the health of our entire region like Tracy has,” said Burrell. “From leading a campaign to get state approval to bring heart surgery to Gainesville in the early 2000s, to pushing the vision of what is now the NGMC Braselton campus throughout the 2010s, to uniting community leaders in the fight against COVID-19 in the 2020s – she has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to improve the lives of many she’ll never meet. And, in true Tracy fashion, she didn’t retire until we had a clear plan to keep the work going.”

Melissa Tymchuk is succeeding Vardeman in her position and will now serve as chief strategy executive in addition to her current role as chief of staff. Tymchuk worked in the Strategic Planning and Marketing division as executive director of strategic marketing before becoming chief of staff in 2017. She has also served in additional interim roles as needed – including as NGHS chief human resources officer and chief development officer of the NGHS Foundation.

About Northeast Georgia Health System

Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) is a non-profit on a mission of improving the health of our community in all we do. Our team cares for more than 1 million people across the region through four hospitals and a variety of outpatient locations. Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) has campuses in Gainesville, Braselton, Winder and Dahlonega – with a total of more than 700 beds and more than 1,100 medical staff members representing more than 60 specialties. Learn more at