What the Ford name is to the automotive industry, the FRIST name is to healthcare. To say healthcare runs in the family is an understatement.
In the 1960s, the idea of hospitals turning a profit was revolutionary. Then came THOMAS FRIST SR., M.D., who led a group of physicians in founding Park View Hospital in Nashville and building a for-profit hospital empire called Hospital Corporation of America.
Not one but all of Frist's sons became physicians. THOMAS FRIST JR. joined his father in the HCA effort and more than three decades later is chairman of the 196-hospital company, still headquartered in Nashville. Another son, Robert, is a cardiac surgeon whose son launched an online healthcare company in 1998 called HealthStream. A third son of Thomas Frist Sr.'s, William, left his medical practice in 1994 to head to Washington as a Republican senator from Tennessee.
Known as a gentle physician who always put patients first, the elder Frist was idolized in Nashville healthcare circles. Today it is impossible to talk about the history of for-profit hospitals without mentioning his influence. He was inducted into the Heath Care Hall of Fame in 1990.
HCA's current chairman, Thomas Frist Jr., added a layer of business strategy to his father's emphasis on patient care. After serving as a military flight surgeon, Frist at age 29 decided to help found HCA with his father. In 1977, he became president of the company, and in 1987, he was named chairman, president and chief executive officer. When HCA merged with Columbia Healthcare Corp. in 1995 to become Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., he served as chairman of the board and later as vice-chairman. He then returned as chairman and CEO in 1997 when Columbia's two top executives at the time, Richard Scott and David Vandewater, resigned amid a Medicare fraud investigation that remains unresolved today. Frist stepped down as CEO this year at age 62.