With New Tower Open In The Gulch, HCA Says It's Ready For Whatever Comes Next Out Of Washington

Dec 5, 2016

Construction started on HCA's new, 17-story building in the Gulch neighborhood two years ago.

A lot's changed between then and last week, when the office tower officially opened. And the health care landscape is likely to change a good deal more over the next few years.

Chief executive Milton Johnson says the company's ready.

"Over our 50-year history, we've worked with Republicans, we've worked with Democrats, we've worked through different economic cycles, and we've been able to not only just survive, but thrive in the times," Johnson said shortly after a dedication ceremony for the tower on Friday. "So, I'm confident HCA is going to be fine over the years ahead."

But he says the company is going to have to adapt.

Many hospital companies have been hit by financial markets following the election of Donald Trump. The president-elect's promises to end Obamacare has investors worried hospitals will be stuck with more patients that can't pay.

Thomas Frist, Jr., right, reacts to the unveiling of a portrait of his father, Thomas Frist, Sr. Both men were among HCA's co-founders.
Credit Chas Sisk / WPLN

But Nashville-based HCA says it's not fazed by what's likely to be the second shakeup in healthcare in less than a decade.

Just how that plays out, isn't clear. President-elect Trump and his pick to lead Health and Human Services want to repeal the Affordable Care Act. But the new vice president, Mike Pence, oversaw an expansion of Medicaid under the ACA in his home state of Indiana.

Johnson didn't want to comment on those scenarios.

But the 1,500 people already moving into the company's new tower will be kept plenty busy sorting it out. The tower will be the home to three subsidiaries: HealthTrust, which handles hospital purchasing; Sarah Cannon, the company's cancer institute; and Parallon, a business and operational services division.

Plans call for HCA's headquarters to anchor a larger development in the Gulch. It'll include offices for other companies and retail space.

Eventually, the city and company officials hope to spur a health care corridor stretching along Charlotte Avenue from the new HCA tower to its flagship building by Centennial Park.

1100 Charlotte at Capitol View overlooks the Gulch railyard and downtown Nashville.
Credit Chas Sisk / WPLN