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Washington hospital votes to split from Virginia Mason

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The board of Virginia Mason Memorial, a 256-bed hospital in Yakima, Wash., voted to end its affiliation with Virginia Mason Health System ahead of a potential merger, according to the Yakima Herald-Republic.

In July, Seattle-based Virginia Mason Health System announced plans to merge with Tacoma, Wash.-based CHI Franciscan. 

Virginia Mason Memorial's board of directors voted to split from Virginia Mason Oct. 28 before that merger is finalized. The board said it wants to become an "independent, local healthcare system" instead of joining a larger system. 

"I think this relationship for the almost last five years has been beneficial for both of us," David Hargreaves, chairman of the Virginia Mason Memorial board told the Yakima Herald-Republic. "I think we learned a lot and gleaned a lot from them. I just think being part of a larger system, we just didn't feel at this time was the best fit for us."

The board's decision comes after a group of retired physicians affiliated with Virginia Mason Memorial argued a merger would result in fewer specialty services, fewer specialized physicians and lower quality patient care. 

Virginia Mason Health System officials disagreed, arguing the merger could improve healthcare locally.

"The combined new health system with CHI Franciscan will be focused on developing innovative models of care delivery across the entire continuum of care, while enhancing quality and the patient experience," a Virginia Mason Health System spokesperson told the Yakima Herald-Republic. "It is our hope that we will maintain and expand access points for patients in Yakima."

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