Former HCA exec Clayton McWhorter dies

R. Clayton McWhorter, the former COO of HCA, died Saturday at the age of 82.

McWhorter joined the Nashville-based system in 1970 when he was administrator of Palmyra Park Hospital in Albany, Ga. He rose to division vice president in 1973 and later joined the company's executive management team as senior vice president of domestic operations. He became executive vice president of international operations in 1983 and was appointed president and COO of the company in 1985, serving in that position for two years.

“Clayton's impact on the business, civic and political landscape of Nashville and Tennessee will be felt for decades,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said in a statement.

“I first met Clayton in the '90s when I was commissioner of finance, and through his personal perseverance, he worked to ensure Hospital Corporation of America's headquarters would remain in Nashville,” Corker added.

McWhorter also co-founded HealthTrust and served as that company's CEO from 1987 until 1995. After HealthTrust merged with Columbia/HCA in 1995, McWhorter served as chairman of the board and was a company board member until May 2000.

In the mid-1990s, McWhorter formed his own companies.

In 1996, McWhorter started Clayton Associates, a firm that invests in healthcare information technology and technology companies. Also that year, he founded LifeTrust America, a developer and operator of assisted-living communities. McWhorter served as the company chairman until it was sold in November 2004.

Last year, he was an inaugural inductee of the Tennessee Health Care Hall, which he helped found. McWhorter also received the Federation of American Health Systems' Lifetime Achievement Award.

According to the Tennessee Health Care Hall of Fame website, McWhorter entered the healthcare industry as a pharmacist. In addition to serving the community as a hospital administrator, McWhorter also contributed to the McWhorter School of Pharmacy at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., where he originally earned his Bachelor of Science degree in pharmacy in 1955. He also made contributions to Belmont University's McWhorter Hall and McWhorter Society.

McWhorter was active in community organizations such as the American Cancer Society, the YWCA and the Middle Tennessee Council-Boy Scouts of America.

“While his professional impact was large, his personal encouragement to so many will be what those who knew him well will miss the most. He was a true friend and mentor to so many people. I will miss him greatly, and my heart and prayers go out to Michelle and his entire family as they celebrate his life,” Corker said.

Correction, Jan. 29, 2016:

HealthTrust was a hospital company. A previous version of this story incorrectly characterized the business. The story has also been updated to indicate that McWhorter was president and COO at HCA.

Michael Sandler

Michael Sandler does general assignment reporting as well as reporting on hospital system finances. He earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia College in Chicago in 2012 after earning a bachelor’s degree from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee. Joined Modern Healthcare in 2013.

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