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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island’s largest hospital system is joining merger discussions between a major Boston-based hospital operator and another large Rhode Island operator.

Care New England and Partners HealthCare said Tuesday they’ll begin formal discussions with Lifespan to see how all three can “strengthen patient care delivery in Rhode Island.”

Partners, which operates Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, had been seeking to purchase Care New England, Rhode Island’s second largest hospital system. Lifespan is Rhode Island’s largest hospital group.

Two other Rhode Island hospitals, meanwhile, decided Tuesday they won’t merge after months of talks.

The decision means South County Hospital in South Kingstown will, for now, remain the state’s lone independent hospital and not join with Westerly Hospital, which is owned by Connecticut-based Yale New Haven Health System.