FERGUS -- A new hospital in Fergus, Ont. will welcome its first patients this weekend.

Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Health Christine Elliott were in Fergus on Friday morning to see Groves Memorial Community Hospital. It will replace an older hospital of the same name.

Patients will be able to access services at the site on Sunday. Surgeries will start two days later.

The facility, which was decades in the making, is opening during a global pandemic. The province invested $144 million in the hosital.

"[The] province supported almost a 50 per cent increase in our operating budget to hire additional nurses, technicians, environmental services staff to be able to support the growth," said Stephen Street, the hospital's president and CEO.

The budget increase will help the hospital prepare for a potential second wave of COVID-19.

It hosts five isolation rooms, a significant increase from the former site. Each patient room has its own washroom and shower.

"It's a modern facility where they have really stressed infection prevention and control procedures," Elliott said.

"We have 17 treatment spaces," Street said. "We have additional inpatient beds and we are able to expand to the needs of COVID response."

Lead laboratory technologist Laura McCullough is among the staff moving into the facility before it opens to the public. She processes and collects COVID-19 tests.

"The lab is located right next to [emergency], so we will have a much quicker turnaround," McCullough said.

She also plans to use the hospital facilities when she gives birth in the fall.

"I was happy to learn we were moving before I was giving birth," McCullough said.

Staff said the hospital is 50 per cent bigger than the original site on Union Street. Patients will transfer into the facility this weekend.