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Ward VanWichen, far right, is excited to embark on his latest career venture, that as the new CEO at Marias Medical Center. He and his wife, Michelle, second from right, along with their sons, Keenan, left, Hayden, Spencer and Landon, are already familiar with the area and residents due to visiting Michelle’s parents, Marvin and Mary Christianson, as well as sporting events and healthcare connections.

Guiding Marias Medical Center (MMC) through a transition will be the new Chief Executive Officer, Ward VanWichen, and this will be one of his main goals and work. 

Ward brings with him 32 years of experience in healthcare. He began in 1988 as a Navy Reserves Hospital Corpsman and received his Nursing and Master degree in Health Administration from MSU- Bozeman. Since then, Ward has been everything from a CNA, RN, Director of Nursing, Long Term Care Administrator, to most recently, the CEO for 13 years at Phillips County Hospital & Family Health Clinic in Malta. 

His proudest achievement is watching those around him grow in confidence and develop their own accomplishments. Above all things, Ward is a team player that focuses on the growth of others.

“My belief is that you can have a quality person and work with them to become qualified,” said Ward on his perspective of leading others.

The diversity of Ward’s healthcare experiences will be very beneficial as the negotiations with Kalispell Regional Healthcare (KRH) begin. He has been involved with the clinical, operational, human resources, administrative and assisted living aspects of healthcare. Yet Ward’s down to earth and friendly demeanor puts everyone at ease. 

MMC staff warmly welcomed Ward (without handshakes!) to the facility family. 

Ward shared, “I enjoy challenges and finding shared solutions while building relationships with people.” 

He has also established relationships with the surrounding facilities and has worked with KRH through the other positions he held. His goal as CEO will be to gain consistency and stability for the new future and to remain through the transition and lead under KRH. 

Ward is a through and through Montanan. He grew up in Choteau, attended MSU-Bozeman and Billings Universities, and found a beautiful Shelby bride, Michelle Christianson. Their four boys are grown, with the youngest currently finishing his senior year in Malta. 

Ward will reside in Shelby and said, “This is and feels like home, the Hi-Line is full of good people.” 

He and his family have gotten to know many Toole County residents through sports, family visits and healthcare connections.  

In the little down time that Ward has he enjoys hunting, golfing and spending quality time with family and friends. They are fond of Cocker Spaniels and love on two of their own. When Ward and his wife, Michelle, watch TV, they choose to be inspired by documentaries and true to life movies. His reading reflects his character, as he chooses anything related to leadership, especially military and sport leadership. 

“Leadership qualities are the same no matter the context,” he said. “I can always learn something, whether it’s through military or automobile leaders.” 

If you see Ward or his family around town, be sure to welcome them! We are glad to have them join our community and look forward to this new chapter for Ward, his family and Marias Medical Center. 

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