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Fairview and HealthEast plan to merge to make a giant Twin Cities hospital network

The merger could happen this spring, if it's approved.

Fairview and HealthEast are becoming one.

The health care systems announced plans to merge Wednesday, which would give patients more options when it comes to where they can get care. Fairview has dozens of clinics in the west and north metro, as well as greater Minnesota, while HealthEast has a foothold in the east metro.

The merger will also connect HealthEast patients who need specialty care to the University of Minnesota's hospitals, which already partner with Fairview. It will strengthen Fairview when it comes to teaching, because more clinics will be referring patients to the U, the Star Tribune points out.

"Our organizations are stronger together. By joining forces, we can expand clinical services and combine our expertise to serve patients where they live and work, giving them access to the widest range of care choices available," James Hereford, Fairview president and CEO, said in a statement.

HealthEast has 7,500-plus employees, and operates four hospitals and 14 clinics, as well as an ambulance service. Fairview, which is much larger with 25,000-plus employees, has seven hospitals and medical centers; 40-plus primary care clinics; and 55-plus specialty clinics. It also operates long-term care services and owns the PreferredOne health plan.

According to the Pioneer Press, HealthEast has 8.3 percent of Twin Cities hospital revenues, while Fairview has 22.6 percent.

The merger could happen this spring, pending regulatory approval. However, Fairview's attempts to merge with other health care systems in the past have fallen through, like in 2013 when lawmakers spoke out against its plan to join with Sandford Health, the Business Journal reports.

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