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      Memorial Medical Center announces partnership with Spectrum Health

      Memorial Medical Center of West Michigan has announced a partnership with Spectrum Health.

      The Ludington-based health system made the announcement at a meeting this morning.

      A letter of intent was signed this morning for MMC to partner with West Michigan's largest not-for-profit health care system. The partnership still needs board approval, however, which officials say could take a few months. They say the merge should take place by fall.

      "Our primary goal in this process has been to preserve MMC as a viable healthcare provider in this location for future generations," said board chair Al Deering. "That is our key responsibility as a board. After a thorough evaluation, we believe that joining Spectrum Health is the best possible solution for the communities and people we serve, as well as for our doctors and staff."

      The agreement will preserve MMC's Board of Directors, meaning there will continue to be a local voice in governing the hospital. The hospital said they expect expanded health care services, better access to medical specialists and retention of MMC's local staff.

      "The details will be negotiated over the next few months," said Deering. "Our discussions with Spectrum Health have been very positive and we expect no problems reaching a definitive agreement."

      Mark Vipperman, MMC's CEO, called the decision a "win" for everyone.

      "First and foremost, our patients will benefit," said Vipperman. "Joining Spectrum Health strengthens this organization for the challenges ahead and will stabilize a healthcare presence in this part of Michigan for the future."

      Vipperman said they are being assured MMC's current employees will be retained through the merger.

      Memorial Medical Center serves the communities of Mason, Oceana, Lake and Manistee counties. It was founded in 1906 and has been at its present location since 1967.