Two more local hospitals are exploring a partnership.

Rome Memorial Hospital and Bassett Medical Center have signed a non-binding letter of intent to develop a collaborative relationship.

Officials say it would strengthen the continuum of care for the community and position both organizations for the changing health care industry.

With the signing of the letter of intent, the hospitals will begin the process to finalize an agreement that would enable Rome Hospital to become a corporate affiliate of Bassett while remaining an operationally distinct hospital with local autonomy.

That process is expected to take a minimum of six months.

Faxton-St. Luke's and St. Elizabeth Medical Center are also moving ahead with an affiliation agreement.