It takes less than 30 minutes to drive the 11 miles separating Kennewick General Hospital from Kadlec Regional Medical Center.
If only it were that easy to bridge the chasm of mistrust that widened even further during the latest skirmishes between these two hospitals.
But in the best interest of the community, it's time to start. We can't afford to have our two largest health care providers working at cross purposes for much longer.
Regular readers of the Tri-City Herald don't need a rehash of how these two health care providers have gotten so far apart. We suspect most of those who have followed the story already have decided who is at fault.
As much as some readers would like the Herald editorial board to take sides, we see any finger-pointing at this point as counterproductive.
We can't see any advantage to poking at an already-sore spot for this community. Our aim this morning is to encourage healing.
The good news is that Kadlec dropped its lawsuit against KGH's Southridge project. It's a huge step in the right direction.
The pending lawsuit must have curbed the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's enthusiasm for the project. Dropping the suit should help KGH secure federal funding for its proposed new hospital.
That's crucial to KGH's future. If Kadlec's action leads to a truce between the two feuding entities, it could prove even more important in the long run.
Voters decided the community is best served by separate hospitals in Kennewick and Richland. We agree. That being the case, the success of both is imperative.
The bitter battle over the past several months has only hampered the growth and tarnished the image of each one.
If letters to the editor are any indication -- and we've had dozens of them -- it's been a topic of discussion around many tables.
But decisions key to the future of both hospitals will be made outside the community. Even hospital boards and administrators find their hands are tied by the state's certification of need process.
For KGH, decisions about a federal loan made by HUD officials will determinethe Southridge proposal's fate.
Yet the community members are the ones fired up, passionate and even angry about one hospital or the other. None of those emotions will help either achieve its goals.
It's a shared ideal, really. Both want to provide the best care possible for those who need it. It's disconcerting when either hospital looks as if its losing sight of that central objective.
Kadlec Board Chairman Davidson Wood told the Tri-City Herald editorial board that his group is planning to put this behind them. We can only imagine KGH is equally eager to move on as well.
Not every bone of contention disappeared with the Kadlec board's decision to abandon its lawsuit. Kadlec is still pursuing Southridge documents through the Freedom of Information Act, for instance.
But that issue can be revisited if it's shown to threaten KGH's efforts to open a new hospital, Kadlec officials told the editorial board last week.
Wood suggested some social activities between the two hospital boards and went so far as to commit to us that he will be the one to pick up the telephone and get things started.
We don't know if he's thinking of a pool party or a joint fund-raising event, but we believe he'll follow through on his word.
While he's at it, why not invite KGH Board President Vic Johnson to collaborate on a joint message to the community? We'll even provide space for it on our Sunday Forum page.
We know it will take more than a barbecue or a golftournament to turn things around.
It's going to take public's participation. As community leaders, Wood and Johnson should show the way.
The hospitals need to work together. They need to cooperate rather than compete.And, here's a big caveat: The community needs to let them.
When it comes to hospitals, some of the hard feelings in the Tri-Cities reach back many years.
We know it will take time to heal the rift, but we hope it happens soon.
We can't move forward if we keep looking back.