Nashville healthcare pioneer R. Clayton McWhorter dies at 82

R. Clayton McWhorter, a businessman and philanthropist lauded as a central figure in the development of Nashville, Tenn., as key region for the healthcare industry, died Saturday night, according to The Tennessean.

Mr. McWhorter was 82. The cause of death has not been reported.

Mr. McWhorter joined Nashville-based Hospital Corporation of America in 1970 and held a number of roles until serving as CEO from 1985 to 1987. In 1987, he co-founded HealthTrust, a spin-off company from HCA comprised of 104 hospitals that later became a group purchasing organization and cost management company. Mr. McWhorter served as HealthTrust's CEO until the company merged with Columbia/HCA in 1995. 

Known for his passion for helping people, Mr. McWhorter served as a mentor to many. Hayley Hovious, president of the Nashville Health Care Council, called Mr. McWhorter a "visionary leader" whose legacy "will continue to inspire entrepreneurs in this community and beyond."

Among his numerous healthcare initiatives in Nashville, Mr. McWhorter was a founding partner for the Tennessee Health Care Hall of Fame, which commemorates the various impacts Tennessee has had in the national and international healthcare arena. In 1996, he founded Clayton Associates, an investment firm that provides startup companies with venture capital, according to the report.

In 2013, Nashville-based Belmont University established the Clayton McWhorter Society, a giving society intended to further the work of Belmont's health science programs, according to Belmont's website.

"Clayton was just a giant of a person," Michael Burcham, former Nashville Entrepreneur Center CEO said Sunday, according to the report. "So many people, when they have success, they retire or go to the beach. Clayton just kept paying it forward, investing in his community, investing in the welfare of others, investing in startup ideas. It's such a rare, beautiful thing to see such an accomplished man choose to pay it forward and help others. I was very grateful he chose to do that with his life."

Mr. McWhorter was included as an inaugural inductee of the Tennessee Health Care Hall of Fame in 2015. He also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Federation of American Health Systems, according to the report.

Note: This article was updated to correct the description of HealthTrust when it was founded in 1987.

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