WCA Hospital in Jamestown has signed an affiliation agreement with UPMC Hamot Hospital in Erie, Pa., that will allow both hospitals to maintain their independence while expanding access to health care services in the region.

The agreement, which was signed Monday by the heads of the two hospitals, will enable WCA Hospital to retain control of the institution and the services it provides while giving the Jamestown community access to the expertise and resources of UPMC Hamot, which is part of an academic medical center.

“The greatest benefit of our affiliation is keeping high-quality care close to home,” said Betsy Wright, WCA Hospital president and chief executive officer, in a statement released Tuesday.

“Community hospitals across the nation are facing extraordinary challenges in today's uncertain health environment. We are very excited to work alongside UPMC Hamot to provide greater opportunity moving forward into the future of health care delivery, including our ability to recruit physicians and provide additional local specialty services to the benefit of everyone we serve,” Wright said.

The hospitals will begin working immediately on collaborations in a number of support and clinical areas, hospital administrators said.

WCA Hospital, which services much of the population of Chautauqua County, is a 342-bed facility and is southwestern New York's largest nonprofit health care provider.

UPMC Hamot is a 412-bed facility and a Level II trauma center. It has a 400-member medical staff and 3,100 ancillary employees.