St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center’s parent company announced Wednesday that it is in talks to join Ascension Health Care Network, a for-profit affiliate of the nation’s largest Catholic health system.

St. Francis is currently nonprofit and independently run. Ascension Health Alliance, the largest Catholic health system in the country, also includes St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport.

The two parties are not releasing the details of the letter of intent. They will now conduct due diligence and work toward reaching a definitive agreement.

“This step follows a thorough examination of how best to ensure that the people we serve in our communities continue to receive a lifetime of the very best care possible,” St. Francis President and CEO Christopher Dadlez said in a statement.

Karl J. Krapek, a member of the St. Francis board who led its strategic planning committee, said in a statement that joining Ascension’s network offers the potential “to create a powerful, statewide presence to further build on the strengths of our operations that will benefit our communities, employees, physicians and other stakeholders.”

The move is just the latest in a series of affiliations and mergers that are changing the state’s health care landscape. Bristol Hospital recently announced that it is in talks to be acquired by Vanguard Health Systems, a national for-profit network. Last summer, Yale-New Haven Hospital acquired The Hospital of St. Raphael. Hartford Hospital’s parent company, Hartford HealthCare, is building its own network in the state; it now includes Windham Hospital, MidState Medical Center and The Hospital of Central Connecticut.

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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