In 1974, the Mormon church decided to divest its 15-hospital system, turning the network into its own not-for-profit organization and spinning off the entire enterprise free of charge. That new organization would become Intermountain Healthcare, based in Salt Lake City. And Scott Parker would go on to lead the system for more than two decades. Lifetime church member Parker, 70, fresh from orchestrating a few small hospital mergers in Minnesota and Arizona and working as a chief executive officer at a California community hospital, was ready to take the reins. Parker and fellow administrators vowed to keep costs lower than other hospitals, be a good citizen and provide state-of-the-art facilities. At the outset, Parker estimated the system would need $100 million for capital projects. But more communities approached Intermountain seeking hospitals, and existing facilities required more work than predicted. The system ended up spending five times as much on new and upgraded facilities as its number of hospitals grew to 22. During the managed-care boom of the '80s, Parker saw the challenges of trying to satisfy outside payers and launched Intermountain's insurance arm, creating one of the nation's first and most successful integrated delivery networks.
Parker's leadership wasn't without controversy. As Intermountain expanded and became the health plan for half of Utah, Parker came under fire for monopolizing care. Parker—who retired from Intermountain in 1998, after 23 years as president—credits unexpected business opportunities and high-quality staff and leadership for the system's success.