Longtime Nashville healthcare executive R. Clayton McWhorter plans to step down from Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp.'s board of directors at the company's annual shareholders' meeting later this month.
McWhorter's three-year term expires at the May 24 meeting. The company disclosed his decision not to stand for re-election in its proxy statement released last month. For the past three decades, his career has been linked in one way or another to that of Thomas Frist Jr., M.D., Columbia's chairman and chief executive officer.
"I really probably would have gotten off the board earlier, but I stayed on another term, with all the changes that occurred at Columbia," McWhorter said. "This is just a good time for me to do it. Certainly I'll always be available if they ever need me."
In 1970 McWhorter, 66, joined Healthcare Corporation of America--which Frist had founded with his father in 1968--as administrator of Palmyra Park Hospital in Albany, Ga. He steadily moved up the ranks to become president and chief operating officer of the Nashville company in 1985.
In 1987 McWhorter was one of the founding officers of HealthTrust-The Hospital Co., serving as CEO when HealthTrust was spun off from HCA. When HealthTrust merged with Columbia in 1995 (after Columbia had bought HCA in 1994), McWhorter became chairman of Columbia's board of directors.
"He has been a very valuable addition to the board over the years," said Columbia spokesman Jeff Prescott. "We hate to lose that kind of experience and expertise but have to respect his decision to go on to other things."
Although McWhorter has remained a director, he relinquished chairmanship of Columbia's board in 1996, soon after he founded venture capital firm Clayton Associates.
He is also the founder and chairman of LifeTrust America, an operator of assisted-living communities.