In many ways, this newspaper and Northwest Community Hospital grew up together.
The late Stuart Paddock Sr., venerable editor and onetime owner, was a community builder who used his position to advocate for public education and medical care.
During the 1950s -- when the newspaper was still a weekly serving primarily suburban Cook County -- he was the leading advocate for the creation of a modern hospital for the Northwest suburbs that would rival what Chicago hospitals could offer.
He launched a fundraising campaign that led, in 1959, to the opening of Northwest Community Hospital on Central Road in Arlington Heights.
So momentous was the occasion for the suburbs that former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt spoke at the hospital's grand opening.
Northwest Community has remained independent for six decades, even in the past decade when the Chicago region and much of the country has witnessed a rash of hospital consolidations.
But all things must pass. By year's end, Northwest Community likely will be an independent no longer.
On Wednesday, Northwest Community Healthcare, as it has been known in recent years, announced it has agreed to merge with Evanston-based NorthShore University HealthSystem, which operates Evanston, Glenbrook, Highland Park, Skokie and Swedish hospitals.
State and federal regulators are expected to make a decision on the deal by the end of the year.
While Northwest Community had eschewed merger talk in the past, Northwest Community CEO Steve Scogna said he and NorthShore's brass have been in discussions for a few years. "This new model in this marketplace we feel fits that whole mission and our whole purpose better," Scogna said.
The goal is to reduce costs, expand the physicians network and access to specialty services and amplify buying power, Scogna said.
In the process, Northwest Community should be in a stronger position to maintain medical care for decades to come. That's the hope anyway.
Northwest Community has earned a solid reputation over the years, and in NorthShore, it has found a partner with another stellar reputation.
Scogna will continue to lead Northwest Community and its board will remain in place. Furthermore, Northwest Community will have a seat at the table for the NorthShore board of directors.
"We really want to make sure that this community knows the 60 years that they've invested in is certainly going to be continuing on and we're very proud of that brand," Scogna said.
We have a feeling Stuart Paddock Sr. would have been proud, too.