— Chester River Health System and Shore Health System, two not-for-profit health systems under the University of Maryland Medical System, plan to merge into a single organization with one governance structure, effective July 1. Ken Kozel, president and CEO of Easton, Md.-based Shore Health, will serve as president and CEO of the new system, while Jim Ross, the current president and CEO at Chester River, will continue to serve in those roles until the merger is final. Baltimore-based University of Maryland Medical System has approved the plans. No financial terms of the merger were disclosed, and a name for the new system will be determined on or before July 1, a spokeswoman said. A joint announcement said the new system’s middle-management team will be determined by January 2014. The merged system will operate hospitals in Cambridge, Chestertown and Easton, Md., as well as a free-standing emergency center and adjacent medical pavilion in Queenstown; a nursing and rehabilitation center in Chestertown; outpatient services and diagnostic centers in Cambridge, Centreville, Chestertown, Denton and Easton; and home-care and hospice services throughout the area. According to the announcement, the decision to merge was made after a study committee composed of board members and administrative leaders from both health systems reviewed the population needs in Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Talbot and Queen Anne counties. The new system, the organizations said, will be positioned to address the challenges that stem from delivering healthcare in rural areas, such as provider shortages, a lack of specialty care and an aging population with chronic conditions.