Dignity Health Bakersfield Memorial Hospital.

Dignity Health, San Francisco-based owner of local hospitals Bakersfield Memorial, Mercy downtown and Mercy Southwest, has received state approval to join with Catholic Health Initiatives, a Colorado-based nonprofit with no operations in California.

The state Attorney General's conditional consent follows 17 public meetings across the state. The merger is expected to create a nonprofit health system with 700 facilities and 140 hospitals in 21 states.

"This review process offered a chance to hear directly from people in our communities, and we heard over and over how important our services are to the areas we serve," Dignity Health President and CEO Lloyd Dean said in a Wednesday news release. "Our alignment and the consent of the Attorney General's office will help ensure we can continue providing care for many years to come.”

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