ALLISTON, ONT. -- Construction is finally underway at Stevenson Memorial Hospital in Alliston for a new level 2 ICU, and according to CEO and President Jody Levac, it's desperately needed.

"We are in a very fast, diverse and growing community, and we continue to see more complex and higher acuity patients here at Stevenson," said Levac. "And the ability to care for these patients close to home is becoming a bigger issue and a greater challenge for our community."

Chief of staff, Dr. Barry Nathanson, said he's excited about this step.

"In the future, we will be able to keep those people safely and ride things out with them," said Nathanson. The doctor added that if their condition were to escalate, or the patient was to remain unstable, they would then transfer them out to a larger hospital.

Currently, Stevenson has had to transfer many patients to larger hospitals, such as RVH in Barrie and Southlake in Newmarket.

"Broadly speaking, these are patients whose lives are at greater risk in an immediate setting," explained Dr. Nathanson.

The project's overarching goal is to bring critical care closer to home and allow patients to receive treatment closer to home and closer to their families.

Construction is expected to finish up in November, and Dr. Nathanson said it's just in time for the possible second wave of COVID-19.

"This kind of intermediate level of care unit is perfectly well-suited to the new understanding of how the COVID disease is optimally treated when hospitalization is required, and oxygen support is required," said Nathanson.