The announcement came Thursday afternoon from both WCA and UPMC representatives during an event at the hospital. WCA board chairman Steve Kilburn called it a big win for the community.
“Today is a very exciting big day, and a big win for WCA and for our whole community, Jamestown and Chautauqua County,” Kilburn said. “We have announced today that WCA hospital has entered into an affiliation agreement that will fully integrate WCA Hospital within the UPMC network, which is a world-class healthcare system.”
The new affiliation agreement announced on Thursday builds on a relationship that began in 2012 with UPMC when a partial affiliation agreement was reached. And while the officials from either UPMC or WCA chose to refer to Thursday’s announcement as an affiliation agreement rather than a merger, the deal moves in that direction.
UPMC will invest at least $25 million over the next 10 years to support recruitment and retention of physicians, as well as upgrades to facilities, programs and infrastructure, including information technology and electronic medical records capabilities. It has also agreed to relieve WCA’s debt and cover its pension obligations, freeing up significant additional monies for WCA development.
Kilburn said that there isn’t expected to be any immediate changes regarding hospital staff or administration, although there could be a change in the name of the facility.
“As a result of this integration, which are looking forward to finalizing in the second half of 2016, the name of this facility will become ‘UPMC Chautauqua at WCA,'” Kilburn said.
WCA Struggling Financially in Recent Years
According to Buffalo’s Business First news journal, WCA have struggled to meet state and federal reform obligations. WCA ended 2014 with a small surplus on revenue of $93 million, down slightly from $96 million the prior year, a year that also included a $1 million deficit. The hospital’s net assets dropped from $23 million to $8 million. The affiliation with UPMC is expected to help stabilize finances at WCA and eventually help to expand healthcare services at the local level.
UPMC Senior Vice President Leslie Davis said that UPMC has helped to transform other affiliate hospitals, with 18 different hospitals now being part of the UPMC network.
“UPMC really is a combination of 18 mergers and each one is fairly different. We’re very respectful of the community we work with. We’re respectful of the board and understanding that each geography is somewhat different,” Davis told WRFA following the announcement.
Hospital officials say that the state must first review and approve the affiliation agreement before it is finalized, which could take place by late spring or early summer.
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