Trinity Health is pleased to announce that Christopher M. Van Gels, a facilities manager with nearly three decades of experience in the health and aerospace fields, has joined the regional care system as Vice President, Facilities Management, following a four-month long national search. He succeeds Dave Kohlman, who is retiring in late June after a 35-year career with Trinity Health, including 10 years as vice president.
Van Gels will oversee all aspects of Trinity Health’s facility infrastructure across the region, including construction, maintenance, real estate management, space allocation and contract administration. “Christopher will be a great addition to our team,” said John M. Kutch, Trinity Health President and Chief Executive Officer. “He brings decades of facility leadership to this role. We look forward to working with him as we transform the delivery of healthcare services to the community and region-at-large.”
Van Gels comes to Trinity Health from St. Louis, MO, where he served the last five years as Director of Plant Operations and Maintenance for SSM Health, a not-for-profit health system with care sites in Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma and Wisconsin. He was responsible for organizing and directing the maintenance, repair and alteration of buildings and grounds for multiple medical campuses, including a 215-bed acute care hospital, a behavioral hospital and 13 medical office and outpatient centers.
Prior to joining SSM Health, Van Gels gained extensive facilities management experience during a long association with the Boeing company. He joined Boeing in 1994 as a procurement agent and advanced through the company over the course of 24 years. He worked in various management positions, including nine years as senior manager in the Shared Services Group – Site Services & Facilities unit. During that period, he was responsible for major project and construction oversight. Most recently he served as facilities analyst with Boeing and was a member of its Enterprise Equipment Maintenance and Infrastructure Reliability Center of Excellence team.
Van Gels has a Master of Business Administration from Lindenwood University, St. Charles, MO, and a Bachelor of Arts in business administration from Iowa Wesleyan University. He has been active in community and civic affairs, serving on various boards, including the Board of Trustees for Iowa Wesleyan University.
“During the interview process and after spending my first days in Minot, I quickly began to appreciate the efforts and dedication of the facilities personnel under the leadership of Mr. Kohlman to keep these buildings clean and operating as well as they seem to be. Doing all that hard work while designing, building and transitioning into this magnificent new Healthcare Campus and Medical District, is truly a testament to extraordinary effort within that division and across the organization,” noted Van Gels. “My family and I are excited to be part of the greater Minot community,” he added.
Kohlman worked as a machinist in Minot before joining St. Joseph’s Hospital in 1987 in facility maintenance. He strengthened skills in facility management through coursework at Bismarck State College, Johnson Controls and more. When the Sisters of St. Francis built the Medical Arts Clinic in downtown Minot, Kohlman was put in charge of energy management. In 1998, Quorum Health Group acquired UniMed Medical Center and Medical Arts Clinic, and Kohlman was promoted to facilities director. In 2001, Trinity Health acquired UniMed and dubbed Kohlman its Plant Operations Director for the merged facilities. He joined the senior leadership team as vice president in 2011.
Mr. Kohlman’s impact on Trinity Health has been extensive. During his 35-year career with Trinity Health, Kohlman oversaw the construction of a series of significant campus expansions, including the recently completed Healthcare Campus and Medical District. “Dave Kohlman understood that operationally, leaders needed to develop or improve work processes to keep our patients, employees and communities safe, while still accomplishing the maintenance and upkeep necessary to support healthcare services and activities,” Kutch said. “We benefited enormously from his work and he leaves a lasting legacy at Trinity Health. We all share the deepest respect and gratitude for his service.”