Officials at St. Elizabeth Medical Center and Faxton St. Luke's Healthcare have said they want to get closer. They've even mentioned the "m" word—merger. But there are lots of ways hospitals can get cozy without the full commitment of a full-asset merger. The Utica hospitals already have tried the low-commitment collaboration, in which they work together on certain services, most notably the Mohawk Valley Heart Institute. They simply could expand this kind of partnership. But other options include an affiliation (for those who like their independence), the creation of a parent corporation (for commitment and independence) or a full-asset acquisition (for a dominant partner who wants control).