Sherman Hospital in northwest suburban Elgin, IL, which last month rejected an overture to merge with Centegra Health System, has had recent talks to partner with Advocate Health Care, the Chicago area's largest provider of medical care. Advocate has been among the most aggressive of the area's hospital operators in seeking mergers and acquisitions to grow its network of hospitals, clinics and doctor practices across the state. Advocate would not elaborate on the scope of the discussions or when the two parties last met. Sherman is independent, like many of the facilities Advocate has merged with in recent years. Last year it opened a new 255-bed replacement hospital that has all private rooms. The facility was financed mostly with debt.