The people in this area are the winners now that Mercy and Patients First are one. Sunday it was official: It’s just Mercy. Now rather than competing, the two organizations have joined forces and can concentrate on the main issue, caring for people in this area.

Not that they didn’t do that before, but now the focus is strictly on patient care and the delivery of services.

Now, there will be those people who will say competition was good. That usually is the case. But the competition is still there. Mercy has several competitors less than an hour way.

By joining forces, the two organizations have the potential to be a potent force in the delivery of medical services. Both Mercy and Patients First have excellent primary care doctors and impressive specialists. The services offered, especially in the treatment of cancer and heart problems, are exceptional for an area of this size. We expect to see more expansion of medical services, which means more people will be able to receive treatments here rather than driving 40 or 50 miles. This is a convenience not only for patients but for family members.

It’s going to take time for all of the details in the merger to work out. It’s a complex transition. Adjustments have to be made. The merger calls for staffs of both organizations to be patient as details unfold. Doctors who are being integrated into the Mercy system will assume more direct involvement in operations. That’s what the Mercy model is. It’s a partnership between Mercy administrators, board members and doctors.

Mercy still plans to build a new hospital to meet today’s needs. Plans for it have been on hold while the merger negotiations were in progress. Mercy announced some time ago that it plans to build a new hospital in Washington in eight or nine years. It now may be forthcoming sooner.

The merger is in the best interests of the people in this area. Negotiations began after community meetings urged the two organizations to work together. Mercy also reached out to the Patients First doctors.

It’s time to move on to meet the challenges and responsibilities and to give the people even more enhanced health care.