The parent companies of Hartford Hospital and The William W. Backus Hospital announced Friday that they are exploring a formal affiliation, the latest in a flurry of health care partnerships forming in the state.

The two organizations — Backus Corp. and Hartford HealthCare Corp. — have signed a nonbinding letter of intent. The process it begins is expected to take several months, and could lead to Backus becoming a member of Hartford HealthCare.

Hartford HealthCare has been among the most active in pursuing links with other hospitals in the state. In addition to Hartford Hospital, the company’s network includes MidState Medical Center in Meriden, Windham Hospital, The Hospital of Central Connecticut, which has campuses in Southington and New Britain, and Natchaug Hospital in Mansfield.

Backus Corp. is the parent of the Backus Healthcare System, which includes Backus Hospital in Norwich, as well as home health care and physician groups.

According to a statement from the two companies, Backus’ board has been reviewing alignment opportunities for more than a year and began seeking potential partners.

Any potential affiliation would require state and federal regulatory approval.

Last month, the parent companies of St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford and Johnson Memorial Hospital in Stafford Springs announced plans to form an affiliation, which would be the first formal affiliation with another hospital for St. Francis. Yale-New Haven Hospital and The Hospital of St. Raphael have announced plans to merge in a transaction that, if approved by regulators, would form a single hospital with two campuses in New Haven. Yale-New Haven’s parent company is also the parent of Greenwich and Bridgeport hospitals.

Waterbury Hospital and St. Mary’s Hospitals are planning to form a joint venture with a Texas hospital company that would produce a new, single hospital in Waterbury.

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Arielle Levin Becker covered health care for The Connecticut Mirror. She previously worked for The Hartford Courant, most recently as its health reporter, and has also covered small towns, courts and education in Connecticut and New Jersey. She was a finalist in 2009 for the prestigious Livingston Award for Young Journalists, a recipient of a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship and the third-place winner in 2013 for an in-depth piece on caregivers from the National Association of Health Journalists. She is a 2004 graduate of Yale University.

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