When hired as chief executive of Columbia St. Mary's in late 2001, Leo Brideau took over a health care system with two hospitals 1.2 miles apart, each with a different culture and with departments often staffed by competing physician groups.
He knew one of his tasks would be combining the two.
"Basically, you had an organization that for five years was treading water," Brideau said in 2005.
The opening this month of Columbia St. Mary's $417 million hospital at 2301 N. Lake Drive - consolidating the former Columbia and St. Mary's hospitals - marks the last step.
It was nearly a decade in the making.