BARRIE -- Southlake Regional Health Centre has two new medical tents set up outside the hospital dedicated to COVID-19.

The hospital did have an assessment clinic in the ambulance bay, but now anyone showing symptoms of the virus will be checked in the new field hospital outside the main entrance.

"This is a unique situation without a playbook, so we've got to adapt and adjust very quickly so that we can look after our patients," says Dr. Gaurav Puri, emergency room chief.

"Having this space gives us the opportunity to still assess patients who are dealing with concerns related to COVID and to test them in a safe way, giving them a bit more space," adds Dr. Puri.

"All of the air in this shelter is being circulated through filters and UV technology. It not only maintains negative pressure, but also a clean air environment," explains Stephen Trafford, manager of emergency and disaster at Southlake.

The hospital is currently caring for 20 patients with COVID-19. Five of those patients are on ventilators.

The new field hospital tents can hold as many as 30 patients, with enough space for staff to work.

Each tent came with a $20,000 price tag, which was funded by the hospital foundation.

Staff will work out of one of the two tents to start, with the second on standby if needed.

"COVID isn't going away until everybody's either had it or been vaccinated," Dr. Puri says. "This is something we'll use specifically for COVID until it's no longer an issue. But it may be something we use indefinitely. It's really hard to say."