FREMONT -- Citing the demands of a changing health industry, Washington Hospital and UC San Francisco have entered a partnership aimed at expanding services to patients and medical students.

The board of directors of the Washington Township Health Care District unanimously approved the "strategic relationship" on Wednesday night, saying it would create a regional health care network that enhances local specialty services and aids the transfer of patients to and from UCSF Medical Center.

Specialized UCSF physicians will also be staffed in Fremont at some point once a needs assessment is complete, according to hospital officials, though the details and timeline have yet to be determined. UCSF's specialized services in mental health, pediatric and palliative care, as well as end-of-life care are some areas patients might have increased access to.

New opportunities for clinical training will also be added at Washington Hospital for medical students as part of the deal.

Washington CEO Nancy Farber said the deal is the product of a year of talks and "not a merger or acquisition." She said Washington's desire for an affiliation with an academic teaching hospital dates back to the 1980s.

The partnership will help both institutions "navigate the changing health care environment more effectively," Farber said, noting the Affordable Care Act emphasizes the creation of regional systems.

Mark Laret, CEO of UCSF Medical Center, said he sees the relationship "as an anchor to begin the development of a regional accountable care organization that we think could certainly rival and maybe in many ways be superior to what Kaiser offers throughout the region, by linking the best hospitals, great physician groups and offering unique access and quality that may not be available elsewhere."

Dr. Sam Hawgood, dean of the UCSF School of Medicine, said he felt "culturally and from a values perspective, we were going to be a very good fit." Looking ahead, he said, "Scale is unquestionably going to be important, and having partners that we can respect and trust to get through those tumultuous times is going to be key."

A common electronic records system will aid the flow of information between the two public agencies, with Washington's Epic records system set to go live July 1, officials said.

Ashly McGlone covers San Leandro, San Lorenzo, San Ramon and the Washington Township Health Care District. Contact her at 510-293-2463. Follow her at Twitter.com/AshlyReports.