Ground has been broken for the new $30 million Mother Baby Center at Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids.

The new center will be part of Allina Heath and Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota's network and is slated to open by mid-2015.

The facility will provide mothers and families in the north Metro -- including Coon Rapids, Anoka, Buffalo, Maple Grove and neighboring communities -- access to family-centered birthing options closer to home, according to Allina Health.

The center will feature the only Level II special care nursery in the north Metro along with private patient rooms, with in-room accommodations so families can stay together with their baby. For babies born at less than 34 weeks gestation, or for those requiring a higher level of care, there will be a "seamless transition" to the Mother Baby Center at Abbott Northwestern Hospital and Children's in Minneapolis.(That center opened in February 2013.)

"Adding more specialized services at Mercy, especially for high-risk mothers and babies will mean fewer will need to go farther from home for care," said Dr. Penny Wheeler, president and chief clinical officer with Allina Health, in a statement. "We want to keep mothers and babies as close together as possible. Patients are happier when they can receive the care they need close to home."

Mercy Hospital will ultimately move its current birth center to the new 62,200-square-foot, two-story Mother Baby Center attached to the hospital. For high-risk patients, a skyway will connect them to the hospital's main operating room.

Other features of the new center at Mercy include: a designated entrance with valet services and immediate access to triage; 10 labor and delivery rooms; 22 post-partum rooms; two large operating rooms; an infant resuscitation room; a 10-room Level II special care nursery with 14 bassinets; a newborn nursery; five triage rooms; private patient rooms with bathrooms and hospitality amenities (hairdryers, large screen TV, iPod docking station), fold-out sleeper sofa; a family lounge for to families whose baby requires neonatal care; and provider call rooms.