WINCHESTER, Mass.— Winchester Hospital signed a preliminary agreement to join a larger suburban Boston competitor, Burlington, Mass.based Lahey Health. The board of the 200-bed hospital had been seeking a potential partner since March 2012. Under a letter of intent with Lahey Health, Winchester would gain representation on the Lahey Health board equal to the organization’s other two hospitals, Lahey Hospital & Medical Center and Beverly (Mass.) Hospital. Lahey merged with Beverly Hospital’s parent, Northeast Health System, last year. Dr. Howard Grant would remain president and CEO of Lahey Health, according to a news release outlining the tentative deal with Winchester. Winchester earned $6.1 million on $310.1 million in revenue in fiscal 2012, which ended Sept. 30. In a May report revising its outlook on the hospital to positive, Fitch Ratings praised Winchester for its manageable debt burden, completion of major capital projects and a leading market share in Boston’s affluent northwest suburbs. Fitch noted the intense competition in the area as a caveat. Winchester said consolidating with Lahey Health would give its patients access to the larger organization’s tertiary care, as well as strengthen Winchester’s programs in primary care, women’s health, emergency medicine and cancer care.