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December 7, 2012 | last updated December 7, 2012 6:41 pm

Mercy scuttles Steward deal, seeks EMHS merger

Portland-based Mercy Health System of Maine has scuttled a deal to merge its Mercy Hospital with the for-profit Steward Health Care System in favor of a deal it is pursuing to merge with a not-for-profit Maine-based health care network.

In a press release sent Friday afternoon, Mercy officials confirmed they have signed a non-binding letter of intent to become a part of the Brewer-based Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems network.

In a separate release, Mercy officials confirmed they are no longer pursuing the merger with Massachusetts-based Steward, with which Mercy signed a letter of intent to merge in August.

The tentative agreement with EMHS sets up the Portland medical center's integration into the network that currently includes over 8,000 employees, including 500 physicians.

Mercy Health System of Maine includes the two Mercy Hospital campuses in Portland, nine primary care facilities in Greater Portland, the VNA Home Health Hospice and a medical staff of more than 800.

Mercy said in the release that if the deal with EMHS goes through, it would remain a Catholic hospital and keep its nonprofit status.

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