When Robert and Amy Mach rolled into East Lewis County, they were ready to embrace their new community. Of course, they didn’t ride in on their Indian motorcycle all the way from Michigan, which was on a trailer towed behind their vehicle. But their arrival was one of excitement for them all the same.
Robert, who goes by “Rob,” is the new Chief Executive Officer of Arbor Health, which includes Morton Hospital, the Specialty Clinic and the Rapid Care Clinic, both in Morton, and the Mossyrock, Morton, Randle and Packwood primary care clinics.
Rob and Amy have much in common — even beyond their four children and 32-year marriage. They are both super approachable, quick with their smiles and build rapport easily with those who cross their path. Also, they are both eager to make East Lewis County their home.
As for the Indian motorcycle, it’s a great love of theirs — one that took Rob years to convince Amy of the potential fun it could offer. She recalls telling him there was no way she was going to go along with him buying a motorcycle, “You’re not going to leave me with these four kids to raise on my own,” she told him. It was after those four kids were grown that she relented and then discovered that she truly enjoys riding on the back of the motorcycle wherever Rob wants to drive.
There’s a humorous twist to the couple’s beginning of their marriage. Amy recalls that they met in South Carolina, where she lived with her sister, and Rob was stationed in the U.S. Marine Corps. Their initial meeting took place in September, Rob proposed on Thanksgiving, and they eloped in February. However, the elopement wasn’t part of the original plan. She explains that they had planned for a summer wedding, but things changed when his squadron received orders to ship out to Desert Storm. Like countless young couples before them facing the young man leaving for war, the two decided their next step was to elope, but they decided to keep it to themselves. They didn’t even tell their parents.
The job of finding the location for this clandestine ceremony fell to Rob, whose results are destined to be retold for the rest of their lives. “When we pulled up to the building, it was a funeral home,” Amy recalled with a laugh. The two had what Amy viewed as the quickest ceremony ever by a justice of the peace, and they were out of there. Rob acknowledges that finding that particular justice of the peace probably wasn’t his finest hour.
They didn’t tell anyone about the ceremony. Amy planned to continue living with her sister when he went to Iraq. They said their goodbyes, and then—surprise—Rob showed up at her door three days later. There was a change of plan, and he was not going to war after all. There had to be some living arrangement changes and altered plans for their near future. It obviously all worked out as they celebrated their 32nd anniversary earlier this year.
Rob was discharged four years later, following which, he entered into a hospital-sponsored radiologic technologist program, training him to be what is commonly known as an “x-ray tech.” Once he finished the program, he was hired full-time. He worked his way up through the ranks to Assistant Radiology Director, which put him in the position of not only managing the radiology program at the hospital but also the school from which he had graduated.
From there, the couple moved around the country as Rob completed his education with a Master of Business Administration Degree and took on different healthcare administrative roles, including Chief Operating Officer and Chief Executive Officer.
Through these years, the Machs were involved parents of their three sons and one daughter, who today are scattered between Michigan, Maine, Australia and Washington.
The Machs recently purchased a new home and look forward to getting involved in their new East Lewis County community. “It reminds us a lot of Vermont, the mountains, the green,” Rob says. “The people have been fantastic so far.”
For Amy, she has staked out a year before she considers getting back to work. They are settling into their new home, she has the work involved in preparing for their daughter’s upcoming wedding, and she’s looking forward to working with her large quantity of craft materials. “I have a slight material addiction,” she said with a mischievous twinkle in her eye. “It’s not ‘slight,’ by any means,” Rob responds with a matching twinkle.
As for Arbor Health and its future, Rob says he believes the organization needs to add to and expand its services. He intends to explore opportunities to provide a broader range of outpatient services and expand the rehabilitation programs and the specialty clinic. He also strives to build strong relationships with the local community to increase patient loyalty and support. In the near future, the recent purchase authorization of an MRI unit will enable the hospital to provide MRI services five days a week instead of the current just one day a week. The hospital is also replacing its CT scanner soon.
“The people are very invested in taking care of their patients,” Rob says of the Arbor Health staff. “We have an outstanding medical staff. We need to recruit more, but we’re working on it.”