News that Verdugo Hills Hospital had entered merger talks with at least one other hospital spurred a wave of worry across the greater Glendale area this week, particularly among those who are fearful that the move could end up eroding existing medical services.

And whether Verdugo Hills Hospital merges with Glendale Adventist Medical Center or with some other organization, this really is the key point. Not only would foothill-area residents be greatly impacted by the reduction of any services, especially those that are emergency-related, but so would Glendale's two other hospitals — Glendale Memorial and Glendale Adventist.

It may seem like a luxury for a city like Glendale, with a population hovering around 200,000, to have three full-service hospitals, but the city's gangly, diverse geography essentially demands it, at least in terms of emergency medical services. Decreasing those offerings in one zone will only send more patients to the other hospitals, adding more stress to already busy emergency rooms.

Hopefully, those very real impacts — and the obvious desire of the community to maintain core services — is front and center in the ongoing merger talks.