First it dumped "Columbia." Then last week, in an effort to further simplify and continue the "back to the future" theme that Chairman and co-founder Thomas Frist Jr., M.D. has employed, HCA-The Healthcare Co. officially dropped the second part of its name.
HCA is now officially just HCA.
In May 2000, after announcing the first part of its fraud settlement with the federal government, the company changed its name from Columbia/ HCA Healthcare Corp. to HCA-The Healthcare Co. In addition to honoring the memory of co-founder Thomas Frist Sr., M.D., with a reference to the company's original name-Hospital Corporation of America-the move was a conscious effort to clear the tarnish associated with the "Columbia" chapter of its history.
Effective July 1, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, HCA dropped the second part of its name, which most people had already let go informally. Now it is just a matter of using up all of the existing letterhead, said company spokesman Jeffrey Prescott.
"People were trying to figure out if we were called HCA or The Healthcare Co., so we just simplified and took that (last part) off," he said. "Over the last few months, we've been trying to get folks to just use HCA in the first place."
Meanwhile, Nashville-based Behavioral Healthcare Corp., which has a link to HCA's Columbia/HCA era, changed its name to Ardent Health Services in preparation for moving into the acute-care hospital business.
Modern Healthcare first reported that David Vandewater, the company's chairman, president and chief executive officer, was changing the direction of Ardent at the behest of Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe, a New York investment firm that has invested $145 million in the new company to buy acute-care hospitals (July 2, p. 16). Vandewater was president and chief operating officer at Columbia/HCA in 1997 when the federal government launched its criminal and civil Medicare probe into the company. Vandewater resigned in 1997, and HCA has since agreed to pay $840 million to settle some of the fraud allegations.
Welsh, Carson, which until this year owned a 17% stake in the behavioral health chain, brought Vandewater in to explore the possibility of buying acute-care hospitals and increased its investment to nearly 80% by buying out the interest of nursing home chain Vencor, which also recently changed its name, to Kindred Healthcare.
Vandewater has said he intends to buy hospitals in mid-sized and larger urban markets, the same types of markets he targeted at Columbia/HCA.