Dr. Joanne Conroy and Dr. Joseph Pepe

Meg McIntyre / Sentinel Staff

Dr. Joseph Pepe, CEO of GraniteOne Health, answers a question during a June listening session in Peterborough about the system’s potential merger with Lebanon-based network Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health. At left is the latter system’s president and CEO, Dr. Joanne Conroy.

Leaders of two major health care systems with campuses in Keene and Peterborough officially signed an agreement to combine into one this week.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health — a Lebanon-based network of five hospitals, including Cheshire Medical Center in Keene — and GraniteOne Health, which has three hospitals, including Peterborough’s Monadnock Community Hospital, first announced plans to merge in January.

In addition to the proposal receiving board approval, Rev. Peter Libasci, bishop of Manchester, has also issued a declaration of no objection, allowing the merger to proceed, a joint news release from the systems said Wednesday.

The health systems still need approval from the New Hampshire attorney general, as well as federal regulators.

Lauren Collins-Cline, director of communications and public relations for Catholic Medical Center — a Manchester hospital that is part of GraniteOne Health — said in an email Wednesday that plans will be submitted for review this fall.

The combined entity would be Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health GraniteOne. All of the organizations involved would keep their current names, identities and local leadership, according to the release.

Meanwhile, the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health GraniteOne Board of Trustees would oversee the strategic direction of the system, according to Collins-Cline.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health also has hospitals in Lebanon, New London and Windsor, Vt., as well as 24 clinics in the Twin States. In addition to Catholic Medical Center and Monadnock Community Hospital, GraniteOne includes Huggins Hospital in Wolfeboro.

“The system we are forming honors those long-standing commitments and builds on our clinical excellence, to create opportunities for all of New Hampshire to enjoy better health,” said Rick Botnick, chairman of the GraniteOne Health Board of Trustees, in the release.

If approved, the system will try to meet the growing demand for integrated patient care throughout the region, the release states.

This marks the second time Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health has tried to join with Catholic Medical Center. In 2010, then-N.H. Attorney General Michael Delaney opposed a merger between Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health System and what was then called Catholic Medical Center Healthcare because it would have changed the governance and structure of the Catholic hospital.

Catholic Medical Center affiliated with Monadnock Community Hospital and Huggins Hospital to form GraniteOne Health in 2017.

Olivia Belanger can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1439, or obelanger@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter @OBelangerKS.