DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — A community hospital in rural Maine is a step closer to a merger with a large hospital group.

The Maine Legislature has signed off on the merger of Mayo Regional Hospital in Dover-Foxcroft with Northern Light Health. Northern Light includes some of the biggest and busiest hospitals in the state, including Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor and Mercy Hospital in Portland.

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Mayo CEO Marie Vienneau says the merger is "a responsible step forward." Twelve of 13 communities in the hospital's surrounding area have voted in favor of the merger.

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Democratic Gov. Janet Mills must also sign off on the hospital merger. The hospital has 25 beds and is the biggest employer in its area.