A new modular structure is being built on the grounds of Burlington’s Joseph Brant Hospital in anticipation of an expected surge of patients with COVID-19.

The Pandemic Response Unit, as it is being called, will provide an additional 93 beds for patients who require hospitalization after contracting the virus.

It is the province’s first temporary facility for COVID-19 patients, though Mayor John Tory has previously told CP24 that officials were looking at whether some public buildings in Toronto could be converted into makeshift hospitals if need be.

“The Pandemic Response Unit is being built as a critical part of our pandemic response plan to meet the heightened care needs of our community and ultimately save lives,” President and CEO of Joseph Brant Hospital Eric Vandewall said in a press release. “We are doing everything we can to care for the people of Burlington to prepare for these unprecedented times.” The Pandemic Response Unit is a collaboration between Joseph Brant Hospital, community-based health care providers, the City of Burlington, and Halton Region.”

The Ministry of Health is permitting hospitals to lease or acquire temporary space in institutions or other buildings to handle the expected increase in COVID-19 related hospitalizations, though Joseph Brant Hospital is the first to actually begin construction in Ontario.

The facility is expected to be completed by April 10.

Dr. Ian Preyra, who is the hospital’s chief of staff, said that the unit will allow the hospital to preserve its critical care and high acuity patient beds for its “sickest patients” while ensuring that patients receive the same level of care as they would otherwise.

He said that physicians from the Burlington community will volunteer to treat patients in the unit.

“I don’t think that patients ought to have any concerns,” he told CTV News Toronto. “The Pandemic Response Unit is built specifically for COVID-19 patients, which means that each one of the spaces will have a head wall that has access to high flow oxygen and there will be nursing staff and physicians just like in the hospital. It will be like being in the hospital but simply being in an adjacent structure.”

The facility will be connected to the hospital's south tower.