The Mayo Clinic is eyeing another Wisconsin hospital.
Myrtle Werth Medical Center in Menomonie is negotiating a merger with Mayo Health System, the Rochester, Minn.-based healthcare group that recently signed a deal with Skemp Clinic and Franciscan Health System in La Crosse.
Myrtle Werth isn't conducting merger talks with any other group and could decide to remain independent, said Tom Miller, the medical center's administrator.
Myrtle and Mayo are examining what would be in the best interests of the Menomonie hospital, its patients and their families, Mayo spokesman Chris Gade said.
"There is no firm time line when the process would be complete," Gade said. "We're hoping to bring the process to conclusion by sometime within the year."
The hospital's 250 to 300 corporate members must approve any change in corporate bylaws or hospital ownership. Board Chairman Ralph Thompson declined to comment on the merger talks.
Red Cedar Clinic in Menomonie merged July 1 with Mayo and Midelfort Clinic in Eau Claire. The clinic was renamed Red Cedar Clinic Mayo Health System, but its physicians and employees in Menomonie, Elmwood and Glenwood City will remain employees of Red Cedar Clinic.
The clinic merger is expected to improve access for clinic patients to newer forms of medical treatment and technology available throughout the Mayo Health System, officials said.
State Sen. Rod Moen (D-White-hall) expressed fear that Myrtle Werth, one of the lowest-priced hospitals for its size in the state, might increase its costs with a merger.
He said healthcare mergers have frozen out competition and led to increased healthcare costs.
Mayo officials disagreed with Moen's assessment. They argue the integration of healthcare systems into a single system offers better management and lower costs for patients.