Hospitals in Minnesota are experiencing a new wave of consolidation. Sixteen independent hospitals have become affiliated with health systems like Sanford Health, Essentia Health and Mayo Clinic since 2005, according to the Minnesota Hospital Association. A 17th, in Virginia, is set to join Essentia in November. The trend is especially prevalent outstate, since much of the urban consolidation happened a decade or more ago. Of the 148 hospitals in Minnesota, according to the hospital association, only 42 remain independent. The push toward consolidation seems inevitable. But in the communities where it took place there is disagreement over whether such mergers were good or bad for patients.