Jack O. Bovender Jr.

Chief executive officer and chairman, Hospital Corporation of America

Nationality: American.

Born: August 16, 1945.

Education: Duke University, BA, 1967; MHA, 1969.

Family: Married Barbara (maiden name unknown), 1966; children: one.

Career: U.S. Navy, Naval Regional Medical Center, Portsmouth, Virginia, 1969–1975, lieutenant; Medical Center Hospital, Largo, Florida, chief executive officer; West Florida Regional Medical Center, chief executive officer; Health Corporation of America, 1975–1985, associate hospital administrator; 1985–1992, senior level positions; 1992–1994, executive vice president and chief operating officer; retired, 1994–1997; Health Corporation of America, 1997–2001, president and chief operating officer; 2001–, chief executive officer; 2002–, chairman.

Awards: Order of Achievement, 2001.

Address: Hospital Corporation of America, One Park Plaza, Nashville, Tennessee 37203; http://www.hcahealthcare.com.

■ Jack O. Bovender Jr. joined the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) in 1975 as an associate hospital administrator in Pensacola, Florida. Starting in 1985 Bovender held senior management positions in HCA, and in 1992 he was appointed HCA's executive vice president and chief operating officer. He retired in 1994, when HCA and Columbia merged to form Columbia-HCA. In 1997 Bovender was lured out of retirement to be HCA's president and COO. He had been in health care administration for 31 years when he was named CEO of HCA in 2001. At that time he had over 20 years' experience with HCA.


Thomas Frist, MD, one of HCA's three founders, was Bovender's mentor for many years. Frist took over as CEO after

Jack O. Bovender Jr. AP/Wide World Photos.
Jack O. Bovender Jr.
AP/Wide World Photos

Richard Scott was forced out of HCA because of a federal in vestigation of billing fraud practices. Frist, the company's key strategist and Bovender's friend, convinced Bovender to come out of retirement to accept the positions of president and COO in August 1997. There were major legal and operational issues to address—the Columbia-HCA hospital conglomerate had been charged by the government with systematic billing abuses or fraud and was signing below-cost contracts with managed care companies in exchange for building market share.

A settlement with the government was negotiated for the fraud charges. By 1999, in a move to unload the less profitable hospitals, about one-third of HCA's approximately 350 hospitals had been sold to LifePoint Hospitals and Triad Hospitals. In 2002 HCA purchased the nonprofit, 13-hospital Health Midwest system of Kansas City, Missouri, for $1.125 billion. HCA also invested $450 million into capital improvements for the Kansas City system. The strategy was to move away from a national, only-market-share-matters mentality to focus on larger, high-growth markets. The second major change was to drop managed care contracts if reimbursement was unfair. In late 1988 the renegotiation of contracts between HCA's 56 Florida hospitals and Humana was a significant turning point in managed care contracts.

In 2001 Bovender was named CEO of HCA and in 2002 was appointed chairman. In 2001 Bovender received $1 million as salary and $1.2 million in restricted stock; 400,000 stock options; and $203,000 in other compensation. In 2002 he received a salary raise to $1.1 million and over $2 million in restricted stock; 225,000 stock options; and $291,000 in other compensation as the U.S. Department of Justice concluded its investigation of HCA, which was accused of healthcare fraud. While admitting no wrongdoing, HCA paid $1.7 billion to settle the Medicare fraud charges.

During the peak of the government investigation, HCA stock fell to below $18 per share. From 2000 through 2003 HCA has posted quarterly profits. An icon of investment, Warren Buffett bought 10 million shares of HCA in 2003. By late 2003 the stock was selling at $35 to $40 per share.


Bovender served on several private and public boards and was active in the community. He served on the boards of Quorum Health Group, American Retirement Corporation, and the Nashville Electric Service during his brief retirement from 1994 to 1997. He also served on the Nashville Community Foundation, the Nashville Healthcare Council, and St. Luke's Community House. In addition, he served in several capacities at Duke University, including positions at the Fuqua School of Business, on the Divinity School Board of Visitors, and on the Divinity School Capital Campaign Committee.

Flying airplanes was Bovender's hobby, an interest often shared with his son. He reported that flying is more pragmatic than playing golf. However, it is a little riskier, unless one has a habit of routinely playing golf during thunderstorms.


Bovender's expertise was in operations management. He had a hands-off approach to management. One of Bovender's colleagues, Chip Caldwell, stated, "He's clear at setting expectations and then leaving those who report to him with the task of execution" ( HealthLeaders Magazine , February 1, 2002). Bovender was a devout Episcopalian, and this background was reflected in his values-based management style. He had an ability to impose strict demands on those who reported directly to him, and he got results. Caldwell noted that Bovender set aggressive goals and insisted on individual accountability. "He also set up a positive, powerful learning environment and strongly encouraged us to replicate best practices," according to Caldwell. "There was a friendly competition to be recognized as someone who could present something innovative" ( HealthLeaders Magazine , February 1, 2002). Bovender stressed a team-oriented style and remarked, "When I read about basketball, it's not just looking at the guy who scored the most points, I always go and want to see who got the most assists." He valued experience. Bovender stated, "There's no substitute if you're the CEO of a company with 190 or so hospitals to have run a hospital or two, to know what the pressures are. I know what it's like to have two or three patients in an intensive-care unit 'go bad' at the same time. There's no substitute for having been there" ( HealthLeaders , February 1, 2002).

See also entry on Hospital Corporation of America in International Directory of Company Histories .

sources for further information

"Bovender and Templeton Receive Order of Achievement," Lambda Chi Alpha , http://www.lambdachi.net/foundation/happenings.asp .

Cashill, Jack, "HCA's Investment to Energize KC Healthcare," http://www.ingramsonline.com/november_2002/hca.html .

"Columbia May Sell 108 Hospitals," News Herald (Panama City, Florida), November 18, 1997, http://www.newsherald.com/local/col1118.htm .

"Cover Story: The Sequel," HealthLeaders , February 1, 2002, http://www.healthleaders.com/magazine/print.php?contentid=31879 .

Russell, Keith, "COO Steps Up to Lead HCA," Tennessean Business , January 9, 2001, http://www.tennessean.com/business/archives/01/01/01739924.shtml?Element_ID=1739924 .

Vogt, Katherine, "HCA Revival: Hospital Company Makes a Profitable Turnaround, AMNews , October 20, 2003, http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2003/10/20/bisa1020.htm .

—Mark A. Best

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