BARRIE, ONT. -- After being delayed due to COVID-19, construction on a new Level 2 Intensive Care Unit at Stevenson Memorial Hospital will start July 13.

As Alliston's population continues to grow, a hospital with an ICU is vital.

"We're bursting at the seams. The amount of patients we're seeing in our emergency department is upwards of almost 40,000 visits a year," says Mary-Beth Hennin, clinical manager emergency and medical services.

The Level 2 ICU will have four beds and will move critical care closer to home. Right now, some patients are transferred to bigger hospitals like the Royal Victoria and Southlake Regional Health Centres.

"To be able to keep (patients) here instead and have the support of their family close is very important," Hennin says.

Planning for the new unit began after a $1-million contribution from the Central Local Health Integration Unit in 2019.

The project was expected to be completed this summer, but it now looks like it will wrap up in November.