The transformation of health care, as most of us knew it growing up, came about as swiftly as did the wonders of cyberspace. And there are similarities.

In both arenas, for example, the gurus continue to address the local component, economics and efficiency.

Those are the issues which are paramount in our local hospital's decision to align itself with the big giants in the region - Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington and Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital and the Northern New England division of the Lahey Hitchcock Clinic in Lebanon, N.H. It's a move that clearly indicates the wave of the future.

That Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital chose to affiliate with both fine facilities is to their credit. Vermonters are fortunate to be in such proximity to the institutions where serious study, research and treatment is under way and where medical care is making history. We are grateful that we have access to both fine facilities.

While we hate to see the facility that just celebrated its 25th anniversary, and offered medical care to our loved ones, move toward any semblance of losing local control, we recognize that this is indicative of medicine today. Hospitals, because of the economic factor alone, can no longer go it alone.

We applaud NVRH for having the foresight to align itself with the best in the region to guarantee area residents outstanding medical care.

The hospital board and officials are to be commended also for selecting to link the hospital with the two facilities instead of just one. Clearly they recognized that area residents, as well as the many local health care providers, have strong preferences and divided allegiances to both facilities.

The recent decision to link up with the two medical facilities did not come about lightly. It has been about a year and a half in the making and has been studied carefully by a local task force.

The hospital is being realistic. NVRH made a wise decision.

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