Mercy Hospital addition for birth center approved

A ground breaking ceremony for a 50,000 square-foot addition to Mercy Hospital is expected to take place in November.

The Coon Rapids City Council, on the recommendation of the Coon Rapids Planning Commission, approved a site plan for the Mother Baby Center at the hospital at its Oct. 1 meeting.

Construction is expected to start in December with completion in late March or early April 2015, according to Jennifer Olson, executive director and vice president of operations, Mother Baby Clinical Service Line of Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

Allina Health, of which Mercy is a part, is partnering with Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota on the Mother Baby Clinical Service Line across the system, said Gloria O’Connell, public relations manager at Allina Hospitals and Clinics, in an email response to a question.

The extent of Children’s presence at Mercy has not been completely defined, but it will be greater than at present, she wrote.

“Now they are more like consultants and critically ill newborns are transferred to Minneapolis,” O’Connell wrote.

“With the new center, more of those babies and high-risk moms will stay in Coon Rapids.”

According to O’Connell, Olson reports to Dr. Penny Wheeler, Allina’s chief clinical officer.

Earlier this year, a new $50 million, four-story, 96,000 square-foot Mother Baby Center was opened to link Allina’s Abbott-Northwestern Hospital with the Children’s Hospital campus across the street in Minneapolis.

Mercy’s two-story addition will be located on the southeast side of the hospital adjacent to the heart and vascular center.

The plan include an internal skyway connection across the rear of the building to the operating rooms, which are located on the west end of the hospital, said Scott Harlicker, Coon Rapids planner.

According to information provided to the city by the project architect, HDR Architecture, Inc., St. Paul, the new center “will create a state of the art facility for mothers and babies at Mercy Hospital.”

The center will have two operating rooms, 13 labor/delivery/recovery rooms, eight special care nursery rooms, 19 post-partum rooms, shell space and required support space, the architect states.

The addition will incorporate an existing single-story clinic that is currently part of the hospital complex.

The entrance will be a focal point of the building with a canopy and large windows in the upper story to help identify it, according to Harlicker.

The addition will eliminate 79 existing parking spaces, but the hospital will still have 1,561 parking spots available, which is well above the 1,265 spaces required by code, Harlicker wrote.

No one spoke at the public hearing before the planning commission, which discussed the impact of the project on parking at the hospital.

The addition won’t result in any new employees or additional hospital beds and valet parking would be available, Donald Rolf Jr., HDR Architecture, Inc., told the commission.

According to Harlicker, the main access from Coon Rapids Boulevard will change, but the drive in front of the hospital and the new addition will be modified to accommodate the entrance and drop-off area for the new building.

Councilmembers were excited about the project.

Mayor Tim Howe said it was a major expansion, coupled with the construction now taking place on the new medical building across Coon Rapids Boulevard from Mercy.

“This is a fantastic development at Mercy Hospital,” said Councilmember Paul Johnson.

Mercy is the largest employer in Coon Rapids and is the “economic engine” of the northwest part of the city, according to Johnson.

“Mercy continues to invest in the community and the hospital,” Johnson said.

Councilmember Jerry Koch said the new skyway will be the third in Coon Rapids.

The first was built at Anoka-Ramsey Community College to link two buildings that house the college’s arts programs, while the second is currently under construction over Coon Rapids Boulevard to link Mercy with the new medical building, he said.

Peter Bodley is at peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com

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