1987-A 35-year-old Texas healthcare lawyer who had never run a company before, Richard Scott, meets with physicians in El Paso, Texas, about forming a partnership to purchase local hospitals. Scott was known in the industry for assisting Republic Health Corp. with selling financial stakes in its hospitals to physicians.
July 1988-Scott and Fort Worth, Texas, financier Richard Rainwater form a partnership with 120 physicians and purchase two El Paso hospitals from Healthtrust. Columbia Hospital Corp. is born.
May 1990-Dallas-based Columbia acquires San Diego-based Smith Laboratories and becomes publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
September 1993-Columbia agrees to merge with Galen Health Care, the hospital spinoff of Louisville, Ky.-based Humana. The new $5 billion Columbia Healthcare Corp. owns 99 hospitals in 19 states and two foreign countries. Scott says Columbia's strategy of selling ownership stakes to physicians will be expanded.
February 1994-Columbia merges with Nashville-based Hospital Corporation of America, forming the nation's largest healthcare company. Scott becomes president and CEO of the $10 billion company. Thomas Frist Jr., M.D., HCA's chairman and CEO, becomes the merged company's vice chairman and remains a major individual shareholder.
January 1995-Scott moves Columbia's headquarters to Nashville from Louisville, citing tax advantages.
April 1995-Columbia acquires hospital chain Healthtrust for $5.6 billion. Healthtrust CEO R. Clayton McWhorter becomes Columbia's chairman. McWhorter subsequently relinquishes the chairmanship to Scott but remains an active board member.
May 1995-Columbia announces its intention to acquire half a Roman Catholic healthcare system based in Cleveland. Despite intense pressure from the church, the Catholic Health Association, and Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine, the deal goes through with Vatican approval.
March 1996-Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Ohio announces a joint venture that would transfer most of its assets to a subsidiary of Columbia. The deal meets strong opposition.
November 1996-California's attorney general blocks Columbia's $202 million bid to buy half the assets of San Diego-based Sharp HealthCare, saying Columbia undervalued the system. By February 1997, the Sharp board votes to terminate the deal.
December 1996-During a year of intense scrutiny by state attorneys general across the country, Columbia's acquisitions of not-for-profit hospitals are cut nearly in half. The company completes 17 acquisitions or joint ventures with not-for-profit hospitals in 1996, compared with 33 in 1995.
January 1997-Columbia diverts its attention from the hospital market, announcing its intent to acquire Value Health, a benefits management company. Puzzled by the deal, some Wall Street analysts wonder why Columbia is acquiring a company they consider "troubled."
February 1997-In Columbia's 1996 year-end earnings conference call with Wall Street analysts, Scott proclaims 1996 the company's best year ever. Columbia's 1996 net income rose to $1.5 billion on $19.9 billion in revenues. On Feb. 13, its stock hits an all-time high of $43.88.
March 1997-Federal agents swarm over Columbia's El Paso operations, where Scott began the company's controversial strategy of allowing doctors to buy stakes in Columbia hospitals. During the same week, Columbia's plan to buy the Ohio Blues is called off.
April 1997-When Scott is a no-show at a scheduled speech before the Nashville Healthcare Council, Frist is the first to talk publicly of the company's troubles. He says these are difficult times for the company, a comment that meets with a roar of applause from the crowd, which includes many healthcare executives.
July 1997-Federal agents execute search warrants at Columbia facilities in seven states, carting off documents relating to laboratory and home-care services. A week later, Scott resigns as chairman, CEO and director. President and Chief Operating Officer David Vandewater also resigns. Frist is named chairman and CEO. Columbia is reportedly talking with Tenet about a merger.
-Compiled by Bruce Japsen