FRUITA, Colo. (KREX) — Now that the merger between SCL Health and Utah-based Intermountain Healthcare is complete, many are wondering what the future of local healthcare will look like.

According to Becker’s hospital reviews, Intermountain Healthcare is currently the 31st largest nonprofit hospital chain in the nation. Adding SCL’S eight hospitals to the list would propel it to the 23rd largest hospital chain but the merger is raising important questions about rising health care costs.

The merger is underway, but the concerns from independent hospitals are only beginning, “I do worry with a larger organization, they have different strategies and so you lose the communities control,” Jeff Mengenhausen, CEO of Montrose Regional Health says.

Montrose Regional Health is one of the last three community-owned hospitals in the state. It’s worried Intermountain will use SCL Health’s $1.5 billion dollar reserve along with its own savings to wipe out the regional competition, “And so that’s kind of concerning, and it wouldn’t take much for them to spend $10 million and drop in an imaging center in Montrose which would directly affect the county hospital,” Mengenhausen says.

With growth comes change, but independent hospitals are concerned it’s too much too soon, “They’ve already kind of done it in Fruita, they bought land right beside the Fruita hospital,” Mengenhausen says.

But that’s not the only concern of independent organizations like community hospitals, “Now competition needs to be fair and equitable and that’s one of our concerns when you start dealing with such a large organization and that has such deep resources,” Chris Thomas, CEO of Community Hospital says.

By launching community hospital’s labor and delivery clinic, Thomas says, “We know we’ve been champions in competition and we think a good healthy competition increases the quality of care and also reduces the cost of care.”

Thomas confirms that in the past Mesa County has been one of the most expensive Countys to receive care in the country, “And since we’ve expanded services in both Family Health West and Community Hospital, the community has options and we’ve seen considerable improvements in the cost to health care in our community,” Thomas says.

Thomas says costs are still too high but having strong competition, only enhances that opportunity