BARRIE -- Staff at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre in Barrie are preparing for a second wave of COVID-19.

A portion of the hospital's parking lot is being transformed into an 8,250 square-foot structure that will function as a field hospital.

The temporary Regional Pandemic Response Unit will have about 70 beds for patients.

"We know for sure that this is not over," RVH President and CEO Janice Skot says of the pandemic. "The Regional Pandemic Response Unit will ensure we are prepared for a second wave of cases in Simcoe Muskoka and will provide insurance in the face of a very uncertain future."

The unit will be available to other hospitals in Simcoe County, but Skot says RVH staff are still working out the logistics.

"It's a regional resource to help all of our hospital partners that may find themselves, in the future, in need of an overflow capacity, and this would be their pandemic response unit as well."

The cost of the structure, plus equipment, staffing and infrastructure, is being sponsored by Ontario Health, RVH says.

The field hospital will take about a month to complete and is anticipated to be fully operational in early June.