Skagit Valley Hospital and Cascade Valley Hospital voted Thursday, Aug. 29, to begin negotiating a partnership with PeaceHealth/UW Medicine.
Island Hospital's board voted not to negotiate with a partner at this time. The district will continue researching a potential partner with a community advisory board.
The three public hospital districts in Mount Vernon, Arlington and Anacortes formed a partnership in November 2011 in an effort to lower costs, attract physicians and provide more local services and specialty care.
However, each board votes independently, and only two of the three decided to move forward.
The three potential partners were PeaceHealth/UW Medicine, Swedish/Providence and Virginia Mason.
Consultants hired by the interlocal group rated PeaceHealth as the top proposal of the three.
PeaceHealth, a not-for-profit system based in Clark County and founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, provides much of the health care in Whatcom County and operates the only hospital in Bellingham.