3 western Md. hospitals pursue 'affiliation'

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) -  

   Owners of the hospitals in Frederick, Hagerstown and Cumberland say they're studying the possibility of joining forces for their continued stability.
 
   The announcement Thursday doesn't specifically mention a potential merger of the Frederick Regional Health System, Hagerstown-based Meritus Health and the Western Maryland Health System of Cumberland. But Meritus President Joe Ross wouldn't rule out that possibility in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
 
   The independent, not-for-profit organizations say they're studying the merits of "affiliation and collaboration" to maintain high-quality, cost-effective health care. They call it a "potential alliance."
 
   They say they have contracted with the California-based Berkeley Research Group to conduct a feasibility study. Ross says he expects a report in 45 days that will more clearly delineate the options they may pursue.
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